Friday, April 22

The Nagging Thoughts of a First Time Teacher

I have just finished the third week of my printmaking class. Right now, I'm feeling a bit bummed.
There are two real young students in my class ages ten and thirteen. Ten I admit is way too young, but I figured if the parent is okay with their child handling knives then I'll allow it. Thirteen is the minimum age I set for the my class, but I wonder now if that is too young as well.

The main goal I have for this class is to simply have fun. Also, among many other things, I want my students to learn about printmaking and to gain an appreciation of it. I've gotten very flattering complements about this class that have really made me so happy.

For example, one student who happens to ask lots of good questions and a lot of advice told me today that he now understands how to use to line create an image. In the past, his linocuts were basically cutting out an outline. Today, he's using contour line and varying the thickness and quantity of lines to create these flames and skulls with depth. He made his huge leap from his first intro block to this second block.

What's got me down is I feel like my younger students are not enjoying the class as my older students do. Maybe the wood (MDF) is too hard? Maybe the tools are too big? Maybe I'm not giving them enough attention?

I show everyone how to use the tools and print. I treat everyone on the same level. If I see anyone struggle, I help them through advice and demonstration. If someone asks a question, I'll work it out with them.
I'm not going to stop the young students when when I see them place the knife blade perpendicular to the block and twist the tool into the wood. It made me cringe inside, but I know that they should be free to make these creative choices in their work, regardless of the number of teeth a u-gouge may grow.

The ten year old enjoys the hack and tear aspect of cutting wood so I'm not worried about him. He's making a big, horned battle helmet decorated with battle axes and hammers. However, the thirteen year old cuts out most of the details he draws. He takes frequent breaks to relax his wrist, checks the clock a lot, and sighs. I feel stuck!! I've given him advice on cutting several times like: don't force the tool, make small scoops, cut with the shoulder not the wrist, etc. I'm worried my thirteen year old student is not having a good time or worst of all, dislikes printmaking. Well, I have until next Tuesday to think of something to help him out.

Despite some woes, this class has been great. I'm going to offer an extension on my class because many are still working and some want to continue working on more projects. And promise I'll remember to take pictures!!

1 comment:

CassieMarie said...

I am sure you are a good teacher. :)
I would recommend taking some time with the younger students one-on-one to talk about their projects, and ask them if there is anything that could make the course more fun for them. Maybe have them work on smaller blocks to give them a sense of instant gratification - at that age attention spans are short! ( I used to be an art ed major -hehe - young kids are hard to keep enthused!). They may even be intimidated by the skill level of the older students in your class. Either way, sometimes just asking them how it's going directly is a good way to address how things are going.
Otherwise, I'm glad things are going well, and I can't wait to see some of your student work! :) :)