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Sputty    73

This will be of interest to UK potters in particular, but everyone else (I hope) in passing.

Those in the UK will know that many of the Arts colleges have been closed, and of those that remain, many have closed their ceramics departments. As a result, getting a formal education in ceramics has become extremely difficult.

 

However:

 

Clay College Stoke will be an independent college offering a skills based, full-time ceramics course taught by potters who make a living from their work.

 

 

 

A short film:

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mark C.    1,807

Here on the west coast there are fewer potters as they die or age out of it-very few collages teach kiln building ,glaze making or much other than opening a jar of low fire glaze which you do not need to go to school to learn how to do that.

Our local State college once had a fantastic ceramics program now it's pathetic.

Once students where coming from this school and becoming working potters or educators now it neither-sure once in a blue moon a teacher comes out the other side. Working potters no way-not enough skills taught  or know how to teach.

I used  to care about this issue but now as its become the norm out west and I have lost the love and accepted it.

I will add that the 10 year system has not helped this . Our local collage gave up 10 year  hiring after hiring the last professor in ceramics who only works in low fire-hence the low fire program. Now the other ceramics teachers are all non 10 year and its a mixed bag but they are all part timers.

I hope this works in the UK as the knowledge base is defently diminishing around here.

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JBaymore    1,432

Mark,

 

Part of the issue is that the demographics and expectations of incoming classes (and their parents) for art students are changing... and changing fast.  Not only is there a massive decline in the overall number of students that are coming thru the pipe for ALL types of college classes, but there is an overwhelming drive to turn higher education into pure "job training" for businesses.

 

Lower overall college enrollments are taxing the support for the majors, like ceramics, that are also typically small numbers as a percentage of the overall student base.  Faculty hours get cut.  Support $ for materials and equipment get cut.  What used to be two separate classes get combined into one to save faculty pay hours (and overload and take advantage of the faculty member).  Positions get cut.  Available majors slowly become minors. Departments get closed.

 

In what is really a short 4 years....... faculty are supposed to give them the broad-based skills that make them employable.  So these days, an ever increasing amount of the class contact and homework/assignment time available goes into areas that are aspects that will supposedly be attractive to future employers... and not necessarily employers precisely aligned in the studio arts fields. 

 

We end up teaching a lot of what might be called "basic life skills" now... that should have already been developed by the students families.... and the elementary and high schools.... but aren't.  Time management, working with others toward common goals, respect for themselves and others and opportunities given to them, commitment, work ethic, and so on.

 

All of that time takes away from a skills based learning approach in the specific studio areas.  So they have broad "ideas" and typically good overall design skills...... but less and less in the way of hands-on execution skills.  And if they do manage to develop those hand skills in spite of the system,... it is usually in a VERY narrow segment of the medium.

 

Unfortunately, I'm seeing this happening pretty much everywhere as I talk to colleagues.  Many of us in the clay field are not happy with it.  My own school is resisting this trend ..... but it is tough.

 

best,

 

.......................john

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JBaymore    1,432

........and this forum is becoming increasingly the replacement for college learning.

 

 

I have to disagree strongly with this thought, if the intent of the comment is to say it is the equivalent.

 

There is no question that forums and other online resources can certainly be very educational.  At its best,.......... these kinds of venues can of course be very, very useful.  At their worst... they can convey lots of misinformation,.... because as Mathew Katz recently so aptly said elsewhere online in a ceramics group, ......the 1000 people saying the wrong stuff outweigh the very few people saying the right stuff with people reading the forums who do not know better.

 

To compare the value of these online venues to a hands-on, in the studio working environment with the trust relationships built between faculty and students, and students and other students, is not even close to the same situation.  The working environment in a college major department situation is still leaps and bounds ahead of simply perusing images online and partaking in online discussions.  Even with the (unfortunately) changing situation... it is still comparing apples to grapefruit.

 

Yes, online courses exist.  Many of our faculty have taught in the past at some of the major online college programs (whose names you'd recognize from the ubiquitous TV ads) ... and say that the content, methodology, and pedagogy of those online classes is a total joke.  They've quit for that reason. 

 

I also teach one course in the art history department,.........  an area that seems a natural for an online class.  It is NOT! 

 

In my classes, I can walk around and hand a student a piece of claywork from my collection that is 5000 years old, and point out the forming technique details, and note the FINGERPRINT on it that they can touch.  An image will not have the same impact.  I can emphasize the impacts of the horrible warlike culture of Japan on the psyche and aesthetics of the Samurai period, by taking a hands-on moment and teaching them to wield a bokken (wooden practice sword) for a few moves... and show them just how quickly real battles could lead to their death.  Getting to the gut level of this is to start to understand wabi-sabi.  I can't do that online.

 

Could I teach my class online?  Of course.  Would it be as valuable or as effective? NO!

 

Personally... I would not even go NEAR doing a real critique session online.  Because in order for that to be effective.... there has to be a trust relationship between the parties involved.  To build that deep trust... so that things can the said with sincerity and frankness...... takes a lot of time and interaction that simply cannot be done online.  It takes hours of working together in the trenches to help build that trust.

 

Can online and digital technology be useful in education?  Of course.  But is that as useful as having classroom time, real-time, real-world faculty interaction  AND online resources?  No.

 

best,

 

......................john

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glazenerd    816

 

I have to disagree strongly with this thought, if the intent of the comment is to say it is the equivalent.

Not my intent at all: but I love the passion in your response.

 

My intent was; as Mark points out, and you confirmed in your response to him:

 

 

Unfortunately, I'm seeing this happening pretty much everywhere as I talk to colleagues.  Many of us in the clay field are not happy with it.  My own school is resisting this trend ..... but it is tough.

 

My intent was: when people who live in areas with no qualified programs to learn: they look for other sources.

 

Nerd

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JBaymore    1,432

Thanks for clarifying, Nerd. ( I hate calling you that.   :) )  

 

And yes....... there is passion.  Lifelong educator.  I care. 

 

best,

 

.................john

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JBaymore    1,432

 

John: not sure why you hate calling me by my name?

 

"Nerd" has a lot of negative connotations.  It always feels disrespectful.

 

best,

 

...................john

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Chris Campbell    1,088

I spoke recently with a director of a craft center who is having trouble filling workshops ... people say they can learn just as well, for free on YouTube or yes... right here.

For the record, NO you can't.

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LeeU    330

There is no replacement for hands-on learning, actively and directly facilitated by expert instructors in the field. I got my formal ceramics education from a great art school, over 25 years ago. Unfortunately, that was the beginning and end of my work in clay right up until 2014. Then I retired from my career field and bought myself a kiln and built a small studio.

 

I quickly discovered that everything I learned about ceramic science, making clay bodies, formulating glazes, firing, and the technical craft involved in wheel throwing and hand building was pretty much buried in a deep dark hole of "can't remember much of anything".

 

It was a fairly traumatic discovery. I had an expectation that getting back to it would be like riding a bike-it would just kick in via some auto-mode. But it did not. So, in the context of not being able (money issues, more than lack of willingness) to go back to school, I have to praise and attest to the great value of alternative means of learning, such as small workshops, potters guilds, books, videos, and forums such as ths one. In the absence of other opportunities, these resources can be of much help--but never be as effective as an apprenticeship or classroom/field experience. These may supplement, but certainly can not stand alone. 

 

@nerd-I have to agree with John--the various "meanings" of the word "nerd" are essentially disparaging, as are the implications for geek, dork etc. These labels tend to have morphed from more negative root/original meanings and have taken on a kind of dilution and acceptance in popular culture. That lessens the sting, I guess, but I wince everytime I see/hear any of these words self-applied!  For some illogical reason, I don't have the same reaction to macro crystalline "junkie"--go figure--I really like that one LOL

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Mark C.    1,807

I think it unrealistic to feel one could learn a field like ceramics from online or forum discussions . Sure they can aid in the quest of knowledge but when the rubber meets the road-that is real potters who love this enough to pursue it as a life work coming from this background only (no formal mentoring or learning directly from others)Like Youtube . I do not see it. You need to do this with others to make it work at some point.

I have a story of just this in another venue-auto repair. A young friends son wanted to rebuild his engine as he said its a piece of cake as its on the net no real mechanic skills needed just Youtube. Well one year later the car runs but all is not well under the hood and it cost a bundle and took three time s as long and its still not right

.Its like that in many I have seen who think they can forgo the old school ways like learning directly from others.We have this new way and its better than that old way -man has done learnings from one another since crawling out of caves.

Why bother when its all on the net. Well you ever heard of fake news?? how about stuff done not so well.I see that a lot .

One of the reason I have stayed around this venue is to pass on what I have learned and help others avoid the pitfalls as ceramics is bumpy road at best. I'm never trying to have folks avoid direct learning as your mistakes make you learn .I have a feeling of giving back at this stage in my life and being a mentor to a few directly has helped but this forum has expanded that outreach some for me.Its not the money that keeps me here thats for sure.

This forum is somewhat narrow in range from participants especially in firing ranges-sure we have a few wood firing and cone 10 folks but mostly its midrange folks

Many who are new to the clay world and are ripe to stepping into those holes ahead as ceramics will bite you sooner or later it just a matter of when. 

My feeling is if I can just get one human on the path I have come from than its all worth it. That path is making pots for people to use everyday. Spending ones life in the rhythms of clay making glazing and firing and selling-its a lifestyle few have chosen -I was blessed it chose me.

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glazenerd    816

Before I make a counter-point: let me first say: college would have been easier.

 

I am self taught. I started out working with porcelain; and crystalline glaze: the two toughest aspects. I spent almost seven years working alone, before I joined any group or forum. Not alot of information out there on crystalline glaze: and what is, is not overly technical. That said, I suspect I have read and studied over ten times the books, technical papers, and research docs: as required in college. Yet in the same breath: specific parts of the equation I thought I had right: was wrong. That is the biggest pitfall of self-learning: no one is around to check your work. On the other hand; when opportunities to learn from those who were well established in the arts came up: I took advantage of it. Case in point: was meeting Ron Roy in KC for three days. He was gracious enough to endure hours of endless questions: I went with a long list. When I decided to learn how to throw: I went to my local supplier to learn from their teacher (Anna), who is college educated, and very skilled in her craft. Yet, I also watched many hours of educational throwing videos online. I also knew those videos might have given me a visual reference; but they do not replace the hands on experience from a skilled educator. Anna stood over me: more pressure, less pressure, brace your arms, loosen your grip, make less pulls, etc: specifics videos will never teach you.

 

In talking to my local supplier (BFA in Arts): none of the colleges in St. Louis teach glaze or clay chemistry. So if someone does choose a formal education in clay arts: they need to be very selective about where they attend. In addition, your education should extend far beyond the classroom: IE... never stop learning. I have been in the position to afford to experiment, test, and learn on my own: most do not have that luxury. I could also say, my specific area of interest and study: is not part of any BFA program that I am aware of. Then again, I doubt there are many requests from students wanting to learn the specifics about clay chemistry.

My conclusion is: if there is an established clay arts program available to you: do it. Yet I would also say about learning the clay arts: use any and all avenues available to you: with the stipulation that the information provided is factual. The other pitfall of online resources: there is no assurance that what is being taught is  correct. As for me: I will keep reading those technical journals that bore most people to tears. I will keep testing my theories, keep logging results, and keep pursuing knowledge. Perhaps someday I will put all the results in a published book: I am sure I could sell ten copies. I can tell by the reactions to the posts I make, that I will spend the remainder of my days; the same way I started it: working alone.

 

Tom  ( letting John of the hook)

 

 

@nerd-I have to agree with John--the various "meanings" of the word "nerd" are essentially disparaging, as are the implications for geek, dork etc. These labels tend to have morphed from more negative root/original meanings and have taken on a kind of dilution and acceptance in popular culture

Lee: the other reason I went with the Nerd name... an open declaration to those who like to label and disparage others: take your labels and shove up your pie hole :)

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JBaymore    1,432

The other pitfall of online resources: there is no assurance that what is being taught is  correct.

 

Tom,  (thank you!  ;) )

 

Bravo!  You just 'cut to the chase' on one of my pet peeves about many online resources.  No significant peer review.  Everyone can be 'an expert' on the Net. 

 

I have no problem with everyone being entitled to their opinion.  However, that does not make all of those opinions correct ones.  On some things....... there are some ways/processes/facts that are correct and ones that are wrong.  Many things do have shades of different approaches or solutions, but when you know to ask all the "it depends" narrowing down questions.... sometimes there are right and wrong answers.

 

There is a reason that Wikipedia is typically disallowed by most academic institutions as an attributable reference for research.  At any point in time, there is a good possibility that what is listed on any given subject has material that is not accurate. 

 

Because there is no significant peer review with a huge amount of free (and paid) online stuff........ the individual themselves HAS TO  perform their own due diligence if they care if the advice/information they are getting is the best. 

 

VET YOUR SOURCES, folks.

 

best,

 

..............john

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JBaymore    1,432

 

So if someone does choose a formal education in clay arts: they need to be very selective about where they attend. In addition, your education should extend far beyond the classroom: IE... never stop learning.

 

Tom  (aka Nerd ;) ),

 

Yet two more wonderful pieces of advice.

 

best,

 

................john

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oldlady    1,323

just to add an opinion (which does not matter for some people) find a teacher and know what your teacher can make/do.  

 

there are people out there calling themselves teachers.  they are not skilled enough to make anything that should be kept, even as a pet dish.  know the person's work, if it is something worth emulating, go for it.  if it is not, find someone else.  look beyond the silly things, personality traits, sound of voice, etc.  does that person know what he/she is doing?

 

you won't know that unless you see many pots and have read many books.  educate yourself, just not exclusively at a distance.

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Chris Campbell    1,088

The internet only engages sight ... you deprive yourself of all the other senses.

How clay feels when it is ready for the next step, how it feels when it is really dry, when it feels just right to put on slips.

Smell ... yes, how a properly firing kiln smells. Notice how long it takes, how to load and unload it.

Social ... learn from all the other potters experiences.

Taste ... people always seem to bring food to workshops! : - )

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RonSa    189

Online is a good resource for learning but its needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I've seen to many YouTube videos that are not only poor examples of how to do things but sometimes just downright dangerous. ("Here hold my beer, I showya how its done.") 

 

Hands on instruction can shorten the learning curve considerably then trying to learn on one's own. Closest classes to me (besides the HS class) are almost a 2 hour drive each way (once a week for 8 weeks) and I'm looking to pick one for the spring.

 

People in my generation sees the word Nerd as a derogatory term. I know many 20 somethings that consider Nerd a badge of honor.

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Sputty    73

People in my generation sees the word Nerd as a derogatory term. I know many 20 somethings that consider Nerd a badge of honor.

 

That's the thing. Words with 'bad' connotations are in an endless process of reclamation. A badge of shame becomes a badge of pride, deflating the aggression of the original barb. Plenty of examples in identity theory.

My (current) favourite is the way that 'geek' has been reclaimed, especially when allied with 'girl'. 'Geek girl' is a real power statement, combining as it does repossession of the word 'geek' from the pool of scornful characterisation, and marrying it symbolically with female empowerment.

Merry Christmas!

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Chantay    101

I had to drag this thread back up.  If only to present a bright side.

 

I started classes again.  The place I'm taking classes has been teaching them for 50 years.  of the 25 class currently offered in clay, I believe most are full.  (current online list is inaccurate).  My instructor has a collage education.  He has work in clay for 40 years. Selling and teaching are his only source of income.  His adult advance throwing/hand building classes are always full.

 

Several of the students in my own class have participated in shows in the past year.  When I look around the room at class I see people who have enough dedication to make big changes in their lives in order to make clay a part of it.  Growing up I was always told that you could never support yourself with art.  So I became a nurse.  Now I'm back at art again.  No matter what happens with the colleges, there will always be people who will do what ever it takes to learn the craft of their choice.  With the internet these people will find each other. 

 

 

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