I believe our job as teachers is not just to impart knowledge, but to help in developing a successful
learner and citizen in the world. Commitment, discipline, creativity, cooperation, respect, willingness
to dive-in and make mistakes, and openness to new ideas and methods are absolutely necessary to
the development of every creative artist, especially in collaborative fields. These same skills will
serve a student throughout life in almost every other job or relationship; so if we can help the student
develop these skills, they will be valuable regardless of their eventual life choices.
Theatre is both an art and a craft. In teaching, one wants to inspire to the art and teach the skills of the craft. There is no right way to do anything. The only proof of what works is in the result, and therefore, I try to give my students exposure to as many techniques as possible. I don’t teach from a single book in any of my classes, though I offer them as references. Students rarely learn art or craft from a book. The textbooks are useful from a reference point of view and to fill out ideas that have been broached in class.
I am skeptical of hierarchy, I deal with my students as fellow artists, and my grading is entirely based on attendance, participation and earnest effort outside of class, which is easy to detect. While show business may reward artists simply for talent, I feel it is my job, as their teacher to reward them for effort and the development of a good work ethic and ability to collaborate.
I hope to learn from my students as well. I am always surprised how much more there is to know and learn. As long as I can keep an open mind; recognizing that “this is my truth now,” then I can stay creative. The arts are subjective, and we teach guidelines (or best practices), in most instances, rather than hard and fast rules. If I can maintain this attitude, then I can expect it from my students
I believe that all students are different, and many require special handling, but certain expectations are given; it hurts everyone to allow one person’s lack of responsibility to damage an entire group or project. I believe college is where we help these students clarify and develop their attitude towards work and relationships and life. We do no favors if we reward bad behavior, but unlike the real-world, we can wipe the slate clean and offer a student who has made errors of judgment a fresh start on a new project. We teach people how to treat us.
Finally, I believe strongly in cross-disciplinary work. The arts flourish when they don’t exist in a vacuum. Music and Art and Dance and Theatre cross-pollinate. As does literature, design, engineering, philosophy, psychology and sociology. Since the arts are about expression of life, human relations and our world, it is important for artists to step outside the cocoon and bring new experiences and ideas into their work. So I urge students to work with those in other disciplines, create joint-projects and explore themes in different art forms. This can often result in cross-curricular activities that benefit the larger campus and community. Approaching issues and ideas from many perspectives is something the arts do very well. I encourage students to bring life into their art and vice-versa. Finally I hope to teach the students to take great joy and pride in the hard, good work of studying and making art.