【Teaching / Telling】 Art Educators should be aware that Teaching and Telling is different. I first started to teach Art History 15 years ago, but it took me awhile to realize that my style of teaching was more about “telling”. Maybe close to “telling a story”. But is telling a story “teaching”?
It’s always a special delight to be able to listen to lecturers speak about their field of expertise. When I was a student in the US, I went to so many art related lectures offered by museums and other organizations, besides studying at the University. Every single lecture opened up my eyes and even to this day I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to live in the States for such a long time.
But when I look back on those past lectures, I’ve realized that the topics which really sunk in were the classes taken at the University.
It’s because professors at the University “taught”, while lecturers at other venues, “told”. The communication method is different.
When you teach, you want your students to understand from their own perspective what it is that you are trying to communicate. They need to think and analyze on their own what the meaning of your topic is. When they are given the chance to observe this on their own, then there is a big chance that they will actually “learn” something. And when you learn something, it stays in your mind… hopefully almost permanently.
On the other hand, “telling” is often a one-way communication and it becomes challenging to have students learn by just “telling”. But “telling” is also important when the listener is totally new to the subject you are going to present.
If you are aspiring to become an art educator, “teaching” should be your priority. Because educators are different from instructors or lecturers. Teaching is not about transmitting loads of information to the other. To balance the teaching and telling portion is something to consider.
So what should a teacher do in order to “teach”?
It’s simple! You just have to ask questions!
It’s all about “asking questions”. And I have lots to say about this!