Erin Hayes on fri 3 jan 97
I have a question for you guys who teach beginning classes: what are your
basic requirements for exit-level throwing students?
I ask because I have noticed a gradual decline in my course enrollments, and
I am wondering if it may be partially due to the course requirements. I am
sure many of you may snicker at how little I ask of my students - 13
finished, god quality pieces to pass. Sometimes I can't believe how little
it is. However, they are asked to slop substandard work, and that eliminates
a lot of their production.
I teach at the community college level - which shouldn't make a difference,
in my opinion - but which frequently means the beginning students expect a
blowoff class. When they try throwing and realize how much practice is
involved, some of them gradually give up. All of the in-class help in the
world can't get them to a good proficiency level without the discipline of
outside practice. Some of them end up with almost nothing made because they
are not keeping on top of their work as it dries and needs trimming or
handles. They are not efficient time-managers with all their other classes.
What is the opinion of the Clayarters? How much is too much? When is it
right to expect less to encourage enrollment? How do you all deal with the
wide range of student motivations and the repercussions of upholding
standards in a class in which the frustration and time-consumption can
sometimes be too much for some students?
Your input is *greatly* appreciated!
personal e-mail: TXGirlNWA@aol.com
Vince Pitelka on sat 4 jan 97
>I ask because I have noticed a gradual decline in my course enrollments, and
>I am wondering if it may be partially due to the course requirements. I am
>sure many of you may snicker at how little I ask of my students - 13
>finished, god quality pieces to pass. Sometimes I can't believe how little
>it is. However, they are asked to slop substandard work, and that eliminates
>a lot of their production.
That isn't very many pieces, but then again, not many people are capable of
producing God-quality work. Sorry . . . . I couldn't resist that.
The situation you describe is one of the reasons I have always stressed
handbuilding in intro classes, with only a brief introduction to the wheel
later in the semester. Intro students, especially those from other majors,
need much more than rote practice and skill development to keep them
interested. When I teach my throwing class, which comes after the intro
class, or when I do summer classes or workshops in throwing, it is no
problem, because the students are all really committed to learning throwing.
That is not necessarily the case in an intro class. In my intro classes we
do a broad range of projects which give the students narrative and
expressive avenues which they seem to appreciate and enjoy. I do stress
craftsmanship in construction and finish, and when they finish the intro
class they are thoroughly familiar with pinch, coil, and slab construction.
If they choose to continue in clay it is much easier for them to learn throwing.
Vince Pitelka - vpitelka@Dekalb.Net
Phone - home 615/597-5376, work 615/597-6801
Appalachian Center for Crafts, Smithville TN 37166
Marcia Selsor & Matt Benacquista on sat 4 jan 97
God quality pieces is asking a bit much. (Just kidding). I don't require
everyone to throw in the beginning class. Mainly because some will never
get it. I allow handbuilt pieces to be sufficient. I don't require
quantity, but quality. My friend who taught for me while I was on
sabbatical started the course like this:
She showed slides of ancient beautiful pots from all over the world.
Then, she asked the class why did she show them? The response was
varied but mainly for "inspiration". She said "no, it's because this
stuff lasts forever, so if it is not good, don't fire it"
Marcia in Montana
Erin Hayes wrote:
> ----------------------------Original message----------------------------
> I have a question for you guys who teach beginning classes: what are your
> basic requirements for exit-level throwing students?
> I ask because I have noticed a gradual decline in my course enrollments, and
> I am wondering if it may be partially due to the course requirements. I am
> sure many of you may snicker at how little I ask of my students - 13
> finished, god quality pieces to pass. Sometimes I can't believe how little
> school e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Arial on sat 4 jan 97
'' PERHAPS QUANTITY SHOULD NOT BE THE ISSUE.HOW ABOUT GO FOR STANDARDS LIKE
ACHIEVING HEIGHT, EVEN WALLS , GOOD TRIMMING, APPROPRIATELY PROPORTIONED
Dannon Rhudy on sun 5 jan 97
>I ask because I have noticed a gradual decline in my course
enrollments, it may be partially due ... requirements.
It may or may not be due to requirements. My experience at
community college level has been that many students are not
prepared for the necessity to actually WORK and meet expectations
(y'all don't start with me now - I said MY experience) and/or
just taking the class as a kind of lark. I spend the first class
talking generally about what is expected, showing some slides,
telling stories, and making clear that I'm going to work their
buns off, and that their homework for the class will mostly be
done in the studio. Beginners get a taste of throwing early on.
Those who want to focus on that may, and the rest can do mostly
hand-building if they choose to do so. It is clear from the
outset that not everything is going to be fired. Some struggle
with that, some don't. I require a certain number of thrown
pieces, not too many, all taller-than-wide for beginners. But
they do a lot of handbuilding. I find that it helps with skills,
gives them room to think and try without feeling inept, usually
gives them several pieces to keep by semester-end. I do the
usual pinch-coil-slab thing; want them to have a sound basis for
future work. Mainly, it seems important to keep the assingments
interesting both in terms of technical skill and creative
possibility.I try to encourage inventiveness and imagination while
insisting on care in construction. No care, no fire. I find the
advanced students to be pretty inspiring to the beginners, and as
it is an all-together situation, use that to the best advantage I
can. It encourages both sides, I think. I use a lot of different
assignments, try to get them to think in terms of narrative
possibility and so on. I work in the studio all the whole time
they are there, too, building or throwing or whatever, I believe
it is very important for students to see me working. Not just to
observe how I do it, but to see what happens when a theme (or a
skill)is pursued -and pursued, and pursued. It seems to work;
many take the class several times, though they are not required to
do so here.
Tadeusz Westawic on sun 5 jan 97
Your inquiry reminded me of my first teacher, and perhaps reminded
others of their first teachers as well.
He was a Dutchman, schooled in an occidental approach to unifying
function and form. So, Clay I was wheelthrowing not handbuilding, and
the emphasis was on kitchen and tableware. "How will people use it?",
"How will it be handled?" were the tests of our mugs, tumblers, cream
pitchers, sugar bowls, soup bowls and serving bowls.
Mugs and tumblers had to be easy to handle and pleasant to one's lip.
And robust, to take the daily wear and tear. Our pathetic little cream
pitchers would get a B grade if only they did not produce a drip at the
lip when poured from, but not totally regardless of appearance and
balance in one's hand. Handles had to be open enough to get in and out
of comfortably. They had to be wide and flat enough so that they did not
produce an unpleasant pressure on one's fingers when lifted. Balance had
to be such that one's wrist was not overly torqued when moving a full
mug from table to lip. Soup bowls were not to be noisy when scraped with
a spoon, AND had to aid the diner in getting the food into their spoon.
This meant that he preferred bowls whose side walls are at some point
vertical or near vertical, so the carrot in the stew could be coaxed to
roll into the spoon when pushed up the side of the bowl.
I don't make tableware except for daughters' wedding gifts, anymore. But
my culls from these projects go on the cupboard next to the Corelle
ware. My family prefers my bowls and plates to the accepted standard
that Corning offers. When I ask them why, they address functionality
always before formality. "Because my corn flakes are easy to get.",
"Because the juice from my steak doesn't get into the veggies.".
I never gave a thought to any of this before Clay I. But now I realize
how well the teacher defined our goals.