teaching philosophy

My philosophy of teaching can be very simply put: art is hard.

I believe we are all innately creative, every one of us. We are so creative that, when we sleep, we dream several more lucid realities. When we awake, we purge the night’s REM sleep and all its accompanying dreamlike embodiments. At the same time, we launch a previously remembered reality, one that we all call reality.

What if human creativity is a survival mechanism for us? Maybe, with so many human souls around, the problem is too much creativity and dreaming, and not enough clarity.

Art demands clarity. To me, that clarity has three plateaus or levels. Each one is difficult to achieve because art is hard.

Few of us commit to that painful first plateau: the long practice of learning how to weave all those complicated scraps of existence and all those remembered shards of dreams into some better expression. That’s the often-vaunted 10,000-hour domain of the physical virtuoso. Once we do commit to so much clarity, our life changes. We find a clearer focus; we speak with a better voice; we tell a more astounding tale.

Second, we have to learn to reflect upon our attempts at clarity. We have to learn how to walk around that idea we just had. We have to appreciate its facets in different lights. We have to rethink our intuited clarity, often from curious angles or uncommon modes. I believe reflection is internal and quiet and enormously energetic – a substantial and difficult meditation upon simplicity. That is the second 10,000-hour commitment, the domain of the intellectual virtuoso.

The intensity of our expression increases exponentially when we reach the third plateau, the domain of the artist.  Then, our work elicits intense resonance and response all around us. Our creation persuades. We reach out. We touch. Without that, our creativity is moot – and mute, too.

So, I can’t teach creativity. I think it’s already there. But I can teach the three crafts of clarity – the ones that simplify, perfect, and express the beauty that’s already inside us.

One Response

  1. Hey Professor McElwaine Great to meet up again, this is pop:-)

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