TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

I have taught at both undergraduate and graduate levels, in-campus classrooms and off-campus distance advising for over eighteen years. I have been trained in radical, progressive pedagogy which asks to respect the path of the student and to collaborate with them in the learning goals. This emphasizes student-centered teaching where sensitivity and adaptability draws my attention to the different learning style of each student. My task is to follow the path a student chooses and to provide guidance that facilitates best practices in self-initiatory, self-motivating, collaborative leadership and creative stewardship undertaken by that student, toward an engagement with democratic social justice that encourages an engaged citizenry.

In classroom situations, I encourage active engagement and curiosity, peer respect and social bonding, so that each class / course explores a structure that is sympoietic and collaborative. Peer-to-peer learning is one of the fastest and most reliable ways students learn. Through building social relations in tandem with aesthetic relational practices — through interdisciplinary questions and exercises where explorations in how to build community and relational aesthetics, how to build The Commons, how to develop engaged citizenry, and how to build kinship with respect to local protocols along with a practice of ethics and compassion — I have found students have pedagogically thrived.

I believe in the power of a free imagination along with building skills in succinct sustainability. A sustainable ecology manifests in micro and macro worlds, of our internal and external worlds. Such sustainability is where an art practice can become healthy for the artist and the planet, and we can become energy efficient while countering ideology of scarcity to imagine abundant worlds without waste. This also relies on developing keen awareness of materials and materiality, of waste and pollution, and what is the right approach for a particular question or solution.

Rigour, awareness and discipline to practice self-reflexivity and critical evaluation, identifying patterns and syntaxes — this is where interdisciplinary practitioners (for both teacher and student) develop creative skills to extricate themselves from oppressive conditions.

In this, liberation and empowerment are central goals in my teaching practice. I approach art as inquiry, art as research, in tandem with process-based experience, and I approach teaching too as research, rooted in process-based, lived experience and practice. Such inquiry and practice are in pursuance of understanding freedom, on the side of liberation in any given moment no matter how small or inconsequential or invisible, to further democratic processes and ethical best-practices within creative experiments, toward some kind of outcome that is rooted in empowerment. I believe all art making does aspire to strive toward freedom, yet at the end of the planet’s natural resources and at this crucial time when we must turn disaster capitalism around, the way we as artists can model new creative ways of being to counter disaster is significant. I take guidance from Leanne Simpson’s essay “Land as Pedagogy”, as insight into Indigenous ways of knowing that teach us to practice right-relations toward planetary restoration. Artists can insert new avenues of what is possible, creatively and speculatively, into the dominant imagination. I aim to arm students with skills to make that possible.