Where no edits suggested please assume wholehearted agreement 🙂
1  Students and teachers should together cultivate mutual respect.
3  When we’re presented with a piece of work that seems banal, clichéd, badly executed, overly sentimental, gratuitously unpleasant, that makes our hackles rise, that seems like an affront to everything we value, it’s at that moment we most closely reflect on the knowledge and experiences that inform our response. We entertain the possibility that we might be mistaken. We are open with the student about our reservations or responses – inviting them to describe how they came to make the work they did. This will be an occasion to identify some common first principles and to work slowly and carefully forwards from them.
4  It’s no big deal if we’re wrong or we don’t know. Acknowledging our wrongness, becoming better informed are both useful parts of learning. We model new ways of acknowledging mistakes and invite students to be inventive about performing and negotiating their own wrongness.
5  We mostly propose tasks that we are prepared to carry out alongside students. Quiet co-working on a common task (either individual or collaborative) is one very valuable form of teaching. We often learn better together. The difference between the student and the teacher, in this situation, is that the teacher is responsible for paying attention to the students’ learning, whereas only the more advanced students will pay attention to the teachers’ learning.
6  Any criteria based system of assessment of art is necessarily blind to what might make work great. But well designed criteria based systems of learning are valuable in creating the conditions in which great art has a better chance of being made.
7  There are no general recipes for making art and there cannot be. Even given an identical departure point the same move will lead to triumph for one and a disaster for another. A practical suggestion can be a prompt to thought or may open a door to otherwise unimagined possibilities.
9  Teaching art in Higher Education as the tentacles of Neo-liberalism squelch their way into every aspect of the learning context and experience is like shouting from one vessel to another in the middle of a force ten gale.
As teachers we are under pressure to recruit more students, stretch out our attention, develop and deliver more and more formulaic curricula, to students who are habituated to a strategic, rewards-based systems of learning (that might work for animals, or for fine tuning a machine, but not for any kind of advanced human development). Many of the less wealthy students are exhausted and their potential to learn is wrecked by the psychic impact of the fee (and accruing debt), and the paid work that they need to do to live while studying. The social contract is broken – Higher Education (in any subject) guarantees no-one a well-paid job. It might equip you to invent an enriched and enriching life which may include earning a good living. The teacher as service-provider cannot deliver learning to a student-as-customer. The customer may buy gym membership but unless they exercise, their monthly fee will deliver no benefit. The marketisation and mechanisation of learning is the force ten gale. The teachers and students shelter in their vessels. The art studio can provide temporary shared accommodation so that they can have a proper conversation.
11  A familiarity – on your own terms – with culture beyond the visual, some knowledge of history, geography, languages, some familiarity with the sciences, a keen interest in the world- are essential.
13  We teach and learn in the world we inherit and not the one we might want. We should encourage engagement from the beginning and no quarantine period is required or appropriate. Nonetheless, we should probably start in the shallow end with regular experimental forays to the deep end (life guard present)
14  We should actively consider the possibility that interpretive dance might be a better medium than words for the teaching of art, along with mud wrestling, pie-eating contests, taxidermy demonstrations etc
19  All conversations about whether an artwork is any good are meaningless except among friends.
Ruth Catlow Artist, Teacher and Co-founder & Director Furtherfield