My teaching philosophy has been
informed by the lessons I have learned as an artist, scholar, traveler, and
educator at the elementary, secondary, and collegiate levels. Reflective
learning, informed ideas, and questioning are vital in my pedagogical approach
to teaching and my art practice.
I challenge my students to be learners in all aspects of their own practice. I ask them to become thinkers, which makes them able to use all disciplines to develop informed ideas. I believe it is vital to develop these ideas using questions, technical skills, theories, and composition. Teaching how to communicate on applicable, human, verbal, visual, and intellectual levels is key to my educational practice. I encourage students to take risks in the conceptual and technical processes of making art. I want them to become informed and intuitive. It is important that my students understand differences and use them to focus their learning. They should embrace others ideas, whether they be philosophical or technical and take what they can to grow.
Intellectual inquisitiveness is a major component that I want to instill in my students. How does art affect math, how does that finding drive a language, can it move a culture to develop scientific ideas? This is the essential idea of interdisciplinary learning. What informs what you do and how you do it? What cultural constraints are holding us back from our own growth? Why can’t we cure cancer? Why can’t we share ideas openly? Why do test scores, economics, and social constraints drive the educational process? Why must we standardize education when students are not standardized at birth? Why have we forgotten how to ask why and channel that curiosity into learning between all disciplines to see how it can answer the big and small questions of life and learning?
Using this philosophy and method of questioning I challenge my students to understand the big picture and maintain a grasp on the details. The qualities recognizable in these types of learners are that of leaders who do so through knowledge, skill, compassion, understanding, and humanism. I encourage students to gain a global understanding of other perspectives, as well as become part of the global community. Helping them to see the larger community beyond geographical boundaries is key. Travel is essential to understanding and applicable understanding is essential to learning as learning is essential to growth. Through essential exploration of how other cultures, live, learn, and understand these students then apply that knowledge to solving problems. If we expect to move forward in any context it is important that disciplines in higher education and the work place should not be confined to their own specialization. I believe we should challenge our learners to be opened receptors to what other disciplines have to offer. Much like a child who has no bias, no preconceived notion. When I needed to learn to weld, I went to a welder, when I wanted to incorporate stone masonry; I went to a stonemason. I learn by doing, applying and exploring knowledge in a serendipitous informed manner.
Learning at its very core is not subject to one single idea. We learn while we walk, while we look at things, while we eat, drink, converse, write, read, explore, and live life. Students who take part in interdisciplinary learning are students who look at the whole picture. They then dissect that information for learning purposes. When we journey through life on a particular path, we need to remember to take diversions. The knowledge gained on those diversions will be brought back to your life journey and allow you to move further forward. Without diversions global learning is not existent, without global learning, global understanding is negated, without global understanding a humanistic approach towards each other and other cultures is dead. We will not advance beyond our own boundaries.
Cory S. Wanamaker MFA