Image by student Nathan Hobbs, Fall 2016
What do I teach? The question was prompted by dear family friend and poet, Solmaz Sharif, on the morning of November 9, 2016. This had never been a question for me in guiding my courses. Usually my questions consist of how do I teach, what methods am I using to convey content, how am I giving voice to my students, or most importantly do my examples as an instructor encourage critical thinking and participation from students? Do I leave room open for those things I do not see? But lately, since last November, I have been wondering what is my content? This has never been a question for me. Until now.
Usually, I make weekly notes of my observations from teaching. Perhaps in the same way, these weekly practices extend into the 7x9x25 challenge to openly and unabashedly communicate my observations, examinations, and failings.
Usually, I am ready to get the ball rolling. Throw out circular spheres that can gather energy throughout the course. Watch and see what sticks—this time. Waiting with a general idea of when those spheres will return to me from students, larger and more complex than I could have ever measured or understood singularly. Of course, this is all prepared with a sense of gravity, a footing that incorporates blind spots—even if I cannot see them. There is a contradiction there, right? I wish there was a formula. But this is the fun part. Usually.
And I think it is my own blind spots that afforded me the luxury to never ask this question. I am not immune. This is why I love teaching. Perhaps this week is no different when I apply the same notions of observation, curiosity, and challenge. After all, isn’t that what I want most from my students?
I used this image by my previous student, Nathan Hobbs, which was part of a series from his final project: The Multiple Image. As an instructor it feels very metaphorical, a culmination of the first and last day. This idea that I have NO idea where all these spheres are headed to next, but that I do know one thing: they are each their own. And, one more thing: they are definitely moving.