Theatre, unlike many disciplines, is a doing art; and the
realization of true learning is revealed in the implementation of the craft’s
theory in the practical art form. There are three components in the learning
process in the discipline of theatre: 1) text book theoretical learning, 2)
implementation of the theory, and, 3) artistic talent.
It is impossible to have a solid training in theatre without
the theory and principles that govern the art form. This knowledge is gained
primarily through the classroom experience, although it is possible to
"pick up" some of it on-the-job. Teachers must develop and use
a variety of delivery styles and learning activities -- and use them
appropriately -- to assist individual student learning curves. Technology has
greatly enhanced the ability to do this.
Educational theatre has the ability to put the theory into
practice in a lab environment that most of us call a season. This gives
students the opportunity to transform the theory into an art form, and, most
important of all, make it their own. It is impossible to do this without a
controlled situation to rehearse ones craft. The advantage to this laboratory
study and practice is it is just that—study and practice—the chance to
explore one personal style and make choices, some times wrong choices. I have
often told my own students falling flat on your face is still moving forward and
I would rather they make an unwise choice under the educational model that in
the professional world where it may permanently mar their career.
Lastly, there is a sense of talent that must be incorporated
into this equation. Some student have it, some have less. It can be developed
but there must be a flicker of inherent talent. This talent not only is evident
in the expression of the art but I believe it is the talent that drives our best
student to success.
In conclusion, I focus on four areas I see as essential for
being good teacher. I must admit I am not the ideal in each of these areas but
strive toward them because I think it is what makes good teachers.
· A good teacher is effective in
facilitating learning while challenging students in their individual learning
As previously addressed there is two primary styles of learning,
textbook/theory and practical application. Technology has become an invaluable
asset assisting instructors deliver on numerous levels and styles. It is now
possible to the advance student to explore further independently while the
instructor works with other. It is also a valuable tool to the slower learning
student as tutorials while teachers challenge increase learning of the
advanced student. I have found great success in being a provider of
information sources and not the source of all knowledge.
· A good teacher involves both
undergraduate and graduate students in the creative endeavors/research
Learning is not limited to the graduate student. Too many of our institutions
leave limited opportunities for undergraduates in support of the graduate
program. Learning and creativity must be nurtured early to allow the talent of
the students to develop and grow. Both graduate and undergraduate students
must be actively involved in the work of the instructor, as mentor, to develop
to their own potential. I have found greater success in combining both
graduate and undergraduate activities into one collaborative project.
· A good teacher bridges any gaps
between student and teacher.
Our working the production process, lab environment has made it possible to
easily bridge the gap between student and teacher. Close personalized work
situations make give me the ability to monitor the integration of theory into
the practical and allows for additional review or additional material in the
classroom setting. The relationships I have developed, in the labs and
production areas, have bridged the gaps and opened the communication with the
students. Many opportunities are available for strengthening and
broadening classroom experiences when the gap shrinks in the lab environment
good teacher will appeal to a diverse student body and university community.
I have always been interested in teaching. I started my after-college live in
business and the commercial art world. Several things have followed me
into my academic career. First, a variety of life skills that has evolved out
of the areas of manufacturing, sales, staff management, finance, and the
service industry. Second, living in a rural agricultural community in Canada
for nearly 30 years, living in England for two years, and several areas of the
U.S. over 10 years have given a breadth of knowledge that adds to the ability
to relate with, and understand diverse people and situations. These
opportunities have made working and relating to diversity very natural and
assimilation has come with considerable ease.