When I was an undergraduate student (those super nerdy days when I spent all my time in the ceramic studio), one of my professors had enough belief in my abilities to recommend me to be a teaching assistant for an intermediate ceramics class. I was so honored. It was like I won the ceramic lottery. I took the job very seriously and worked a ridiculous number of hours to make sure I didn’t let the professor or the students down. That job led to several more teaching positions and my education was more well rounded because of it. And, even though I was there to assist the students, I discovered the very important lesson that teaching IS learning (see pg. 22). Students are a remarkable resource for fresh ideas that you can learn from and ultimately share with the whole class. In a well-taught class, everybody learns.
The lessons I learned while teaching are never far from my mind as I put each issue of PMI together. While gathering the articles for this issue, I realized that several of the authors teach high-school ceramics. Sara Truman (pg. 13) is a ceramics instructor in Gainesville, Florida; Kyle Guymon (pg. 40) teaches ceramics in Layton, Utah; and Julie Woodrow (pg. 22), has been teaching ceramics in Worthington, Ohio, for 24 years. Lately, I have been fortunate enough to meet many high-school ceramic instructors and I’m encouraged by how fulfilled they are in their teaching positions. That’s not to say they don’t still struggle with budgets, salary concerns, time constraints, safety, etc., but in almost every case they’re appreciative that their school has a ceramics program, every one of them has the best students in the world, and they’re equally as eager to learn something new as they are to share something they have learned from their students.
In addition to her article, Julie Woodrow also sent us her advice to artists on the artistic process (see right). It’s an inspiring mantra for teachers and students. Enjoy!