We all learn in different ways and art is a subjective topic to teach. It is rare to have all students are operating at the same level. I like to switch things up to keep the students thinking conceptually about their projects and mold my instruction to work best for their needs. I use classroom discussion, open critiques, guest speakers and Improv exercises to get the students interacting, sharing and discussing the work.
I encourage communication among the students and the sharing of ideas. Animation is a collaborative art form, and I think students should get used to sharing with their peers.
My primary goal as a teacher is to foster critical thinking, facilitate creative thought and prepare students to function effectively as a filmmaker and artist in addition to learning the fundamentals of animation and gain technical skills with the tools. I strive to create well-rounded artists that have mastered the technical and artistic aspects of filmmaking, storytelling, and animation. I do all of this with an optimistic, positive atmosphere that becomes a safe place to share and grow. My classroom atmosphere allows for students to feel safe making mistakes. I believe more is learned from failures, than successes.
Nothing feels better than when you explain a complex concept and see a light go off. It is a reward in of itself. This is the only reason to become a teacher, in my mind. I am at a time in my life now where I want to give back. I have a genuine interest in making solid artists who, one day, win awards for their films.
I have no desire to create a workforce. Instead, I mentor artists towards innovative thinking. My student’s demo reels are different, and I encourage them to have a unique creative voice. I also value narrative, character and empathy when it comes to animation and storytelling. I view my instructor role as a signpost; steering my students towards original, creative solutions. I believe my role as an instructor is submissive to the student’s growth, and I am quick to change my tactics if an approach is not coming across as I hoped.
My favorite quote regarding the learning experience is, “Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand.” This old Chinese proverb means you can only understand something by trying it yourself. I spend much time lecturing and explaining, then showing through demos and finally… I have my students do it for themselves because only then will they truly understand.
不聞不若聞之，聞之不若見之，見之不若知之，知之不若行之；學至於行之而止矣Confucian philosopher Xunzi