Figure It Out

I have taken on a scary and fun enterprise this school year.  I am teaching a course about something I know very little or nothing about.  I have six sophomores and a senior engaged in a course on filmmaking.  On Mondays, we discuss an assigned film we have all watched prior to class, discussing its content and the art of it.  Tuesdays have me delivering some semblance of a lecture on the filmmaking process.  Then Wednesday through Friday we work on two projects – an ad for our school and a short (15 min max) film.  Here is my rationale and plan for “success.”

  1. An art is not a science, though often you can “outline” the art into something that looks like a science. So an art, like filmmaking, depends upon experiences with the art, often in connection with a master.  As I am exposing the students to master filmmakers through their art, it is much like a great books program in that we are being taught by those outside the room, not necessarily by those within the room.  So my own ignorance is no more crucial than the other students.
  2. In our day, with the internet and tons of other resources, one can study almost anything through such media. My students are being driven to “figure it out” through these resources rather than just doing what the teacher says in class.
  3. This leads to my main point in wanting to teach this course (apart from my love of the subject) – students learn best when they learn as much as possible by “figuring it out.” The main duty of a teacher of art is to ask the right questions in order to direct them toward the right solutions to the problems they experience is trying to do what they want to do.

I will probably come back to this “experiment” over the coming year.  So far, so good.  There is a lot more to be said in regard to how to raise student’s tastes in an art – right now they are shooting pretty low.  But I am giving it and them time.


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