The following resulted from what I have learned about asking for feedback from students and keeping a reflective diary on my teaching practice.
After I made a flow chart of the ceramic process, the students’ understanding of what is quite a complex process became clearer. I noticed that the conversations were changing from those based on minimal understanding to more complex enquiries. I would agree with Michael Wesch and his “anti teaching” when he says: “Good questions are the driving force of critical and creative thinking and therefore one of the best indicators of significant learning. Good questions are those that force students to challenge their taken-for- granted assumptions and see their own underlying biases.”
Often the answer to a good question is irrelevant—the question is an insight in itself. The only answer to the best questions is another good question. And so the best questions send students on rich and meaningful lifelong quests, question after question after question.” (Wesch, M. 2008) I notice that the students who are truly learning are asking thoughtful questions.
One of the students I interviewed said she thought that being a student of ceramics helped one learn patience as the process was so lengthy and involves waiting for pieces to dry and for firings to happen. This is an unintended learning outcome that interestingly will only be included in her assessment if unintended outcomes have been given a special mention, yet patience is a great life learning skill.
This resonates with Richard Sennett “…the craft of making physical things provides insight into the techniques of experience that can shape our dealings with others. Both the difficulties and the possibilities of making things well, apply to making human relationships.” (Sennett, R. 2008)
Making sure that the materials and equipment are clearly labelled, (including examples of glazes attached to buckets), has to be accompanied with explanations to students of the relevance of these details, as well as the careful handling, sustainability, cleaning, and health and safety aspects, when using ceramic materials.