At the directors dinner last night, we had an interesting gentleman at our table; and as is the required protocol of such events, conversations ensued that centered around asking about one another's areas of interest, in order to break the ice. This led to a rather wonderful evening of conversation, perhaps because this gentleman comes from Europe initially and as a result carries with him an awareness of diverse cultural histories; or maybe I found him informed about my world as he is a frequent visitor to India on work for over two decades. In the course of our conversation at the dinner table, he asked me how I teach art.
It is an interesting question for me, because it is one I ask myself everyday that I engage with students. How do I teach art?
Sitting in Montalvo, all these miles away, I often reflect about my students back in India. Not just the immediate ones I currently engage with, but those I have taught over the years; and whose work I continue to track to observe the journey of their continued learning.
So how do I teach art?
My response was to tell the gentleman at dinner last night that I can only endeavour to make the other person attempt to find themselves. Because the truth is that the entire premise of learning is that long and arduous journey of growing to know oneself.
It is well known that my methods of teaching are completely unconventional. Every aspect of the life of my student is a space where consideration and reflection must occur so that it can be examined as a space of viewing that can reveal to them. Communication is pivotal. Discipline is essential. Honesty is crucial. Integrity is vital. Openness is imperative. Hard work a norm.
Whilst I have been away from Baroda I have insisted that each of my students are obliged to write me emails that frame their ideas and thinking. These structures are not so that I receive mail (!) but are meant to create the routine of self reflection where through attempting to speak to another; you hear yourself more clearly.
The richness of cultural histories is that they provide a vista of belonging that can take you out of your geographical territory without ever buying a ticket to any destination. It is this wide landscape of ancestry that beckons; and if one is to teach, then it is important to be an inspirational compass that guides the potential directions that can hold the magic of self discoveries.
I learnt from teachers who taught me to know myself. To take myself to that metaphorical gate and open it wide. Each day I spend in doing just that, and over time we fit the pieces together of who we are into a mosaic that hopefully is rich and fulsome. As a teacher I hope that each of my students can do just that.