Creative Juice: Realizing My Inadequacy As a Teacher

December 8, 2014

Around this time of year, I’m always a little bit sad, a bit reflective.

It’s because one of my favorite annual activities is coming to an end.

See, I love teaching my Art History class. I get the high school seniors for a semester and we walk through history, beginning to end.

On day one, I tell them what my goal is. I want them to become people who love art. I want them to become people who will enjoy art for the rest of their lives. They need the rest of their lives, because there is no way we can cover it all in a semester.

The thing is, I tell them on day one that my goal for them is not a goal that can achieve as their teacher.

As a teacher, I can present the information. I can make the information as appealing as I am able. I am able to put my whole heart into it.

But I cannot make students love art. They are like horses. You can’t make stubborn creatures drink. And if students are bound and determined to hate the thing you are teaching, there really isn’t anything you can do about it.

The fact is, all of our teachers only gave us a piece of the puzzle. What we all have to realize as students is that most of the work of learning and exploring and loving will not be on a syllabus or rubric because those things cannot fit neatly into a teacher’s grade book. As a teacher, sure, I feel a little inadequate when I realize just how little I can give my students. But as a person, I realize that the responsibility is on me, not anyone else, to teach me to love this world and everything in it.

Even Dr. Seuss understood that…


Today, let’s learn like no one is giving us a grade.

One response to Creative Juice: Realizing My Inadequacy As a Teacher

  1. Maybe it’s serendipity that the post linked below showed up in my feed reader today:

    You’re right — the student has to explore the topic on his/her own to really learn it. This post talks about ways of getting students into it.