A recent addition to the how to guides is the one on “how to glaze.” I laminated it so that it can be taken to the workplace—usually by the sink—when glazing. I felt that this has been a success because I observed many students testing the thickness in the way the card instructed and then asking me if I thought it was the right thickness. Previously students would have had to wash off a glaze applied too thickly or thinly, thus wasting valuable resources.
One of the main points I have gained from attending the course is being more aware of student support available across the university for students’ issues or problems beyond my scope, and helping students to access these if they need to, via the university website.
Ceramics is a lengthy process with amounts of time waiting for clay to dry, which means it is a very good opportunity for getting to know the students and vice versa. The trust builds up by spending time together communicating what we mutually care about, that is, their learning experience within and beyond life at the college.
I am thinking more about the kinds of environments I can create for the use of the ever-decreasing time in the learning week and how to improve the support and guidance, particularly concerning cross-curricular use of clay. It was interesting to be at Camberwell and Chelsea Colleges recently to see how they have become what they call “resource based” rather than “subject based,” and to think about whether our idea to share cross curricular resources is heading in the same direction.
Thinking about how to create an environment in which students can realise their ideas, and in which students can be creative (not just the practical/physical environment), is a continuous challenge that we all face, despite the pressures of limited time.
How to increase cross-curricular use of clay was a concern of mine when I started the PG Cert. I mention this in my introductory profile. Currently I am assisting seven students who are using clay for final exhibition work, but none of them have used clay before. I am wondering if this is happening because the Head of Fine Art is encouraging it or whether it is just how it has happened this year, perhaps because I changed my work hours from Fridays to Thursdays. The pedagogy I have learned has helped with this conundrum. I try and ask myself action-research questions that will help me find out the answer. I have been encouraged to spend a whole term discussing such issues with my peer group, but I am concerned that the subject area makes a difference, so not all the theories can apply to us all. I would like (as I mention elsewhere) to find my community of practice amongst the four other ceramic technicians across the University of the Arts. Perhaps when the pressure of studying has passed, I will be able to start encouraging my colleagues to share ideas and possibly resources. I will email them and ask for their suggestions as to how we can begin to do this. My own idea would be to invite them to visit so we can discuss ideas over tea and cake.