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Teaching Ceramics to Adults


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#41 PSC

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Posted 30 March 2014 - 01:55 PM

Open studio isn't for beginners or even people trying to 'get back into it' after a long hiatus. Open studio should be for practice and perfecting, not teacher led but teacher floats from student to student as needed. Structured class is for learning the basics, new skills, teacher led and directed. There is also lab time which is for practicing the basics where often the teacher is not present, and directed study which is project based with a goal in mind that teacher and student touch base often to help the student achieve the goal.

I have done private lessons but only with those that have taken classes before or have more experience. They actually have been more like mini-directed studies, like can you come over and help me figure out how to make this(and there is a specific form they want to explore).

#42 potterbeth

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 01:46 PM

Individual private lessons are tough when you have a student who just doesn't get how much practice is required, so you have to remind them...sometimes constantly...until they understand. Try relating it to your own path in the medium, and see the paragraph below re: beginning wheel. Remember, a student spending 2 hours a WEEK on the wheel will progress more slowly than one spending 2 hours a DAY. Also, different people learn in different ways. Many people respond well when I put my hands on top of theirs to demonstrate proper position or pressure or pace of movement.

 

I've taught adults (and kids) in arts/rec centers for almost 20 years. Most of the classes are mixed skill, and we have many returning students. Intermediate students are the most likely to slip through the cracks in this setting. So, after basics, I try to gear more demonstrations to them while working with advanced students on a case by case basis. These classes are very different than the university courses I've taught, both in their content and in the nature of the students and their motivation for taking the class.

 

At the beginning of each session, students introduce themselves including info on their clay experience and goals for the class. Each class "syllabus" revolves around this information, so no two classes are exactly the same. I know this sounds like idiocy, but it keeps things interesting!

 

For both throwing and handbuilding, we discuss the properties of clay and how to exploit those properties through handling, construction, finishing, and attention to detail while considering how that all comes together to inform and support the artist's personal aesthetic.

 

For beginning wheel students: I ask them how long it has been since they've learned something that requires development of muscle memory, then to consider how long it took them to become proficient at such an activity (typing, playing a musical instrument, riding a bike, playing golf/tennis, etc.). I like to use the analogy of playing a piano: you're dealing with a new medium (musical notes/clay) and a new tool (piano/wheel) while you're training your muscles to create the desired end product (beautiful music/beautiful pot). Even though we can hear the music/see the pot we want, it takes practice to achieve the desired result, and we do not all advance at the same pace. Then, we discuss realistic goals.

 

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