One to one
At the School of Art, as Masters students we are given rudimentary teacher training, and given the opportunity to put that training into practice.
Having been allocated an undergraduate student for one-to-one tutorial sessions, the weight of responsibility suddenly hit me the moment I saw their name written next to mine. This was no longer theory. This was a person, a student, who had kindly agreed to put their trust in me.
Even as a self-confessed conscientious student myself, wow, did I do my homework! I read recommended books, pored over seminar texts. I researched artists and themes relating to the student's work and interests. I planned a framework of open questions that would invite response and discussion. Listening and questioning – the mantra that was my constant.
I felt technically prepared. Confident? Absolutely not! Being confident is an alien state for me anyway, but this was not about confidence. If my teaching experience had been to deliver lectures, then yes, I would need to dig deep to find that confidence. But these were to be one-to-one tutorials. My priority was to have a good pair of ears, and the ability to give appropriate, informed responses. I was tentative and a little nervous, but very much looking forward to meeting my tutee.
For someone to talk about their work, so openly; discussing their intentions, hiccups, inspirations, frustrations, successes, failures and thought processes, is a very personal thing to do. Not only are they letting you in to their thinking, they are showing you the physical manifestations of those thoughts - their working out; sketchbooks, painting sketches, canvases in progress and completed paintings. They are opening themselves up to you, divulging their artistic soul. It’s a privilege, and I am hugely grateful to my tutee for their willingness to share.
I sincerely hope that the student gained something from our time together. Teaching and learning at its best is a two-way street. Though my experience of teaching was a little pinky-toe in the water, it was enriching, and certainly rewarding.