Saturday, August 1, 2009

Some Inspiring Quotes on Effective Teaching

"It makes sense, then, for those of us who are particularly invested in the value of art to maximize any opportunity and to teach in such a way as to increase capacities--and indeed maintain the openness with which naive viewers begin."

-Philip Yenawine

"In the arts as well as elsewhere in education, the best teacher is not the one who deals out all he knows or who withholds all he could give, but the one who, with the wisdom of a good gardener, watches, judges, and helps out when help is needed."
-Rudolf Arnheim

The quotes above perfectly sum up two important characteristics of teaching--both of which have immense implications for our work within museums. They are:

1) Maintaining Openness and
2) Being a Careful Observer/Facilitator

In the first quotation presented here, we are introduced to a teacher whose focus is to amplify existing traits within their students, maximize the opportunities surrounding their students, and to maintain a sense of freedom, comfort, and exploration among the environment in which their students are placed. Particularly important is this last trait--maintaining openness--for it is only when we as teachers continually present to our students an atmosphere of inclusion, discovery, and risk that our students truly take the steps necessary to fill that void with their own creative energies. Our students cannot progress into an arena of self-generated creativity if we do not allow space for them to move, investigate, and map out their own terrain. In our museums, we must give permission and grant access to the body of knowledge we hold in order that those we teach can see new ground to explore, manipulate, categorize and define.

The second quotation reminds us that we take a backseat to the process our students go through in order to get to their desired educational end. Yes, we play a key role in providing room for our students to move intellectually, but how they move is up to them. We can guide them on their journey, blocking certain pathways so as to set them on a course to success. We can certainly set parameters; however, the organic movement of our students within that space is of the most important worth. Surely, the end product of learning is a desirable and admirable goal, but the process of learning can hold power far greater than any concrete knowledge can.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice quotes! I think that you have a nice interpretation for these and wonder where this fits for you in your own conception of museum educators? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you create this or translate this in exhibits and programs, perhaps when you will only have one interaction with the participant?