So my Intro to the Arts (not its real name, but you get the idea) is almost over. We’ve done all the substantive work we’re going to, and now we’re preparing for the final. I have to say I’m very glad to be almost finished teaching this class for the first time; it went very well and I had a great group of students, but teaching it for the first time required a lot of preparation and was a little nerve-wracking. It will be easier next time around.
My students have been doing presentations on their creative project. They were supposed to create some kind of art work in any medium they wanted to, and then present it to the class and talk about what their creative process was like — where they got their idea, how it developed, wrong turns they took, difficulties they encountered, the number of attempts they made before they got it right, etc. It’s been a huge pleasure to see what the students produced and to hear them talk about it. I don’t think I should describe any of their projects in detail, as that seems like an invasion of privacy, but I got some paintings, some poems, some photography, and some projects that don’t fit any traditional category. Those uncategorizable ones were among the most interesting, as those students seemed to be creating something that related to their lives and came out of their experiences in a very direct and genuine way. I could feel the energy in the room as they talked about their work and as the rest of the class asked them question after question about how they created what they did and where they got the idea from.
It was fun listening to the students talk about what they learned. Many students discovered that creating art isn’t as easy as they thought it was going to be. Many of the students who chose photography had that experience — they thought, what’s so hard about taking pictures? But then they got out and tried it and realized that it’s a more complicated endeavor than they realized.
My students also had to go out and have some kind of arts experience — visit a museum, see a dance, go to a concert, etc.. I was reading their papers about the experience today and noticed that quite a few of them had tried something they had never done before; a few of them mentioned, for example, that they had never gone to an art museum as an adult. It’s a little sad that so many people have so little interaction with the arts, and I’m glad the course requires them to get out and see some art because at least it gives them a taste and they might want to go back and see more. The students wrote very well about how exciting and new their experience was and how much they enjoyed it. (They could, of course, just be trying to make me happy, but what they wrote seemed genuine.) We covered so much about various art forms in such a short period of time, but they seemed to have gained some confidence in their ability to understand and appreciate art. Even if they don’t remember any of the vocabulary we learned, I hope they keep that sense of confidence.