Monday, March 15, 2010

Teach the Way They learn

I am often asked where I went to school, what sort of studies did I take and where did I obtain my skills?

I am not a student in any stereotypical way. I do not learn the way most institutions choose to teach and therefore, I have come to consider myself a student of life. I learn by doing and experiencing something first hand. I didn't go to school to learn how to start a not-for-profit, I just dove in a did it. I haven't studied to be a writer, I simply write because i must. I have not studied art beyond that which was taught to me in your standard high school classes. I've learned from taking the plunge and trying things on my own. As a result, I've remembered what I've learned.

I really do believe in the philosophy: If the student does not learn the way we are teaching, then we must teach in the way they learn.

I've taken on the responsibility of knowing what this means and how it applies to me. There is no room for arguing about what doesn't help me retain something. I must, instead, seek to find solutions and ways in which my skills can be developed. Obviously I also learn quite well from reading, but the way in which something has been written must be considered. I dislike wordy writing, written as if confounding the reader with big words will accelerate you to a higher academic standing. If the reader is confused then the writer has failed.

I'm also put off by dry writing, with a focus on just the facts written with little or no imagination.

The things which capture my attention and find their way into my memory banks are the exciting stories and snippets of a life lived. I remember a piece of art because there's a story about the sculptor and the affair he had with the woman who's bust I am looking at. I'll remember stunning life sized statues of voluptuous women because Victoria gave them to Albert out of love.

So today, when I was at the Saatchi Gallery, I was disappointed. Certainly, the art was magnificent. Some of the pieces delighted me and others definitely inspired. The lighting was perfect for each display and I was captivated for the duration of my visit...but there was something missing. At most of the museums I've been to there is a description, a break-down of the materials used and some information about the painter, designer, photographer or sculptor responsible for what I am gazing upon. Here there was so little information, beyond the artists name and a very technical description of the art. I received no answer as to what the artist intended or why they chose to do what they'd done. Even the technical information was lacking, when 'mixed media' was the only description used for a taxidermy deer head covered in clear balls of...well, that's just it! What?

The only way to retain the information was by Tweeting my discoveries, so I might go back and look up the names of the artists and their work at a later date. I did just that, and I think it will be fun to do some exploring into all I've seen today. But the greatest lesson I learned, and one I have no problem adhering to, is that the story of an artists journey and work is as important as the work itself.

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