No one taught me how to teach. What my teachers taught me, was how to learn. This is the basis of my pedagogy. Regardless of subject matter or discipline, my goal is to teach my students how to be better critical thinkers and creative problem-solvers, or essentially, how to learn. Through the course work, my students learn about the materials and processes, but also learn how to draw from their personal experiences and creatively solve a problem. This is much like a scientist creating a hypothesis in order to solve a problem. In pottery, our problems are how to make good pots.
I’ve been teaching at Diablo Valley College since 2009 and cherish the experiences I’ve had over the years. I started out at the San Ramon campus (a satellite facility about 20 miles south of the main campus) and taught beginning and advanced wheel throwing as well as hand-building. While there, I saw the campus persevere through aggressive state cut-backs, all of which was, and still is, quite frightening. In the last year, we’ve started to see a bit more support coming back from the state, and hopefully it’s a sign we’re entering a phase of growth, or a recovery phase – however you want to look at it.
Sometimes I try to imagine a liberal arts college without a ceramics program, and think what a disservice that would be to the college and community. Ceramics are some the oldest man-made objects ever recorded in history. Besides stone tools, no other objects of any material have outlasted vitrified clay which, for that reason alone, makes ceramics one of the most important disciplines in an education. I could go on and romance your ears about the significance of ceramics to the human experience, but I’ll save that for future posts. For now, I’ll be content with just voicing my appreciation for the craft and my fortuity in being able to share it with others.