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Author Topic: "Why I Teach"  (Read 3221 times)
wolfnowl
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« on: June 27, 2011, 03:30:08 PM »
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Why I Teach, by Bob Killen

A worth read...

Mike.
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If your mind is attuned to beauty, you find beauty in everything.
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BobDavid
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 06:45:17 PM »
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Agreed -- a good read.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 07:22:29 PM »
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Excellent!

Rob C, are you listening?

Eric
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RSL
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 08:14:45 PM »
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Thanks, Mike. I think Killen hits the nail on the head. What always seemed most exciting to me was the moment when I realized one of my students suddenly had seen a light flash on. I can't think of anything quite like the satisfaction that comes from that.
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2011, 03:19:21 AM »
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Excellent!

Rob C, are you listening?

Eric



Other than to some of the folks here, no, I'm neither listening nor, certainly, reading.

It has long ceased to be fun, game or entertainment in my life (photography) because all of that was replaced by compulsion. Take that at face value and all the chat and discussion is so much time-filling, which in the case where the real deal is impossible, is all that remains.

I feel absolutely no need to have external information on how I should think or see; it's been my long-held position that folks should be left to make their own visions in life and develop along their own path. You can teach technique to a monkey, as everybody knows, including the monkey, but how many monkeys take it up when they can stay at home getting bananas for free or, at most, for scratching their butts?

The great part about being a part-time shooter is that it doesn't really hurt you if you suck, it doesn't even become obvious to you that you might, indeed, suck. You can suck until the Angus come home in herds and all you'll probably ever hear is wow! you should try and sell those pictures, I'm sure you'd make a fortune. But nobody who says that actually buys.

So yeah, different worlds and different strokes. And democracy sucks along with many of the picures in the pond; lowest common denominator rules. You think I jest? Just consider some of the front-of-house pictures on this site: some, that are breathtakingly great in all respects, hardly raise a ripple; others, more in the popular mode, get rave revues. Go figure, do the maths and then make the conclusion: the elite position is, by definition, the lonely one.

;-)

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2011, 10:17:28 AM »
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I think that you are never to old to learn? And I know it is a cliché. Looks like you are suffering burnout Rob? You are needing something to inspire you and if you can't find it then your photographic days are behind you? Sad
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Justan
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2011, 10:35:58 AM »
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It was a good article. The writer captured some of the reservations that people have and offered a few nudges to help get past some obstacles.

One of the places I support provides education for challenged young people. Most of the students there have any of a number of problems. Having worked there a little over a year, I've seen many who could not do a variety of tasks at the outset, and by the time some months passed they acquired the skills to take on and go considerably past things “impossible” to them previously.

With the right kind of instruction and some encouragement nearly anyone can learn, except of course those who are too stubborn or too afraid to try....

Thanks for the post!
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RSL
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2011, 12:49:12 PM »
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Just consider some of the front-of-house pictures on this site: some, that are breathtakingly great in all respects, hardly raise a ripple; others, more in the popular mode, get rave revues.

Surely you're not surprised by that, Rob. You know as well as I do that it's always been so -- with regard to paintings, prints, etc., as well as photographs. People give rave reviews to visual art that seems pretty. That's why landscape gets the kind of reviews it gets. To go beyond pretty you have to learn something about visual art, and most people don't want to do that. After all, learning about visual art takes time and, even more unthinkable, study.

Consider Edward Weston's "Pepper # 30." It's not my cup of tea, but I have to admit it's an astonishing photograph. But how many people would buy a copy of  "Pepper # 30" (assuming it sold for a reasonable price instead of millions) to hang on their wall? If they'd heard that it's a very famous work of art they might buy it -- not because they especially like it but because it's famous. But to come at "Pepper # 30" cold, having never seen it before and having never heard that it's famous, you'd have to know something about visual art to appreciate what it is.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again (and again and again): If you want to understand what makes a good picture you must -- must! -- study the work of the masters. What you learn will help you judge your own work as well as to the work of others. But studying the masters takes time and concentration. It's easier to grab your camera and look for what's pretty, because that'll almost always get you the kind of "I like its," "Me toos," and "+1s" you're after.
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Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 02:05:26 PM »
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I think that you are never to old to learn? And I know it is a cliché. Looks like you are suffering burnout Rob? You are needing something to inspire you and if you can't find it then your photographic days are behind you? Sad


1. "I think that you are never to old to learn?"

Depends on whether there's something else that you really want to learn; as your time gets limited, you become more jealous of what's left.

2. "Looks like you are suffering burnout Rob? You are needing something to inspire you and if you can't find it then your photographic days are behind you? Sad"

I said before that you are often right. My musos were a stab at preventing just that fate - in the event, they simply provided a good practical testing ground for auto ISO and discovering just how good my 50mm and 180mm can be wide open, or near as dammit.

The trouble probably is, this is all being done on an am. basis and that simply can't offer the buzz of assignment. Why? Because absolutely nothing depends on it. It's like winning a mega-lottery and buying your third Ferrari: so what? That's huge, as factors go; just ask any super-rich of whom you can ask such questions. In my case, it's sure not money, but a lifetime of working in pictures that represents its own type of emotional wealth, if not exactly of joy.

There you go: something else to add to the knowledge-since-toddler file!

Rob C
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stamper
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2011, 02:19:39 AM »
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Baring your soul often helps, something that I am not good at. When you are in the doldrums something often turns up which gees you up. You seem to have lost the urge to work. The commercial interests "forced" you to go out. Left to your own devices and nobody to "push" you along it easy to hibernate?
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Rob C
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2011, 01:14:05 PM »
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Baring your soul often helps, something that I am not good at. When you are in the doldrums something often turns up which gees you up. You seem to have lost the urge to work. The commercial interests "forced" you to go out. Left to your own devices and nobody to "push" you along it easy to hibernate?


Well yes, and no. I agree that the doldrums have a knack for turning things up - things such as keels upon rocks, for example, if you lack engines - but the urge to work has long perished; what remains is the urge to enjoy, but that was so work-dependent that without its financial lubrication it, the enjoyment part, is unattainable. As unattainable for me today as the work.

The quest - possibly as in wild geese - is to find alternatives that are finance-free to accomplish, and thus far, they have all proven to offer feet of clay. There has often been the temptation to spend one's way out of trouble, but I recognize the futility of tossing good after bad; have to add, 0.1% interest on bank accounts is little incentive! I wonder how they reconcile that figure with the bonuses they reckon they are worth for providing it.

You have no idea the number of times I've paused, finger over the Go! button, almost willing myself to buy a 24mm T/S; today it was the turn, yet again, of another 500mm cat. and both with the idea that I'd then feel obliged to take up houses with the one and strange, circular art with the other.

Do you think I'm too old to take up football?

Rob C
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2011, 01:23:25 PM »
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Do you think I'm too old to take up football?

Rob C
Only if you convince yourself that you are.
Go for it and find out!

Eric
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Rob C
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« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2011, 03:59:29 AM »
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Only if you convince yourself that you are.
Go for it and find out!

Eric


Hi Eric - well, I've thought about it now, but I suppose that doing so would put me in company with Charles Bronson.

Rob C
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Rocco Penny
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« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2011, 08:06:26 AM »
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Hi Eric - well, I've thought about it now, but I suppose that doing so would put me in company with Charles Bronson.

Rob C
I don't know what tickles me so when you respond-
I think you should find a protege-not to impart your great wealth of photography experience,
but for your own peace of mind-
someone that shakes the gregory peck out of you.
not to be too obvious but the world needs more leadership from persons of the artist persuasion.
Teaching would be perfect from a standpoint like yours.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2011, 08:17:53 AM »
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Hi Rob,

You and Charlie might hit it off. You never know.

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: July 01, 2011, 09:39:49 AM »
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Hi Rob,

You and Charlie might hit it off. You never know.

Eric




Ummm... don't know; been a long time since I was handy with planks and long nails. I did awaken in the middle of the night last night, however, and found myself thinking that a baseball bat under the bed might be a good idea, but that the legals would somehow see that as a premeditated act of violence. I then thought about Mace, but we can't get that - have to leave something for the fuzz to do, and then it dawned (almost literally) on me that the solution lies under the kitchen sink, along with the dead horse: mosquito spray! It would be quite legal to keep the can beside the bed, and a quick, direct spray in the eyes (of the assailant) at close quarters would buy me the time to leap out of bed - if I still can - unlock the several locks and find my way rapidly to the carpark. Once there, and safely ensconced within the coupé formerly known as Old Rusty, I could have a final heart attack in peace. Sounds cool.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: July 01, 2011, 09:43:04 AM »
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I don't know what tickles me so when you respond-
I think you should find a protege-not to impart your great wealth of photography experience,
but for your own peace of mind-
someone that shakes the gregory peck out of you.
not to be too obvious but the world needs more leadership from persons of the artist persuasion.
Teaching would be perfect from a standpoint like yours.




Rocco, I have long suspected that we of the Italian extraction have an alternative take on things.

Rob C
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RSL
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« Reply #17 on: July 01, 2011, 09:50:39 AM »
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Teaching would be perfect from a standpoint like yours.

Rocco's got a point, Rob. Have you ever considered it? You certainly have the background. One thing a teacher can't afford is a humble opinion. That means both of us are qualified.
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Rob C
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« Reply #18 on: July 01, 2011, 01:14:03 PM »
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Rocco's got a point, Rob. Have you ever considered it? You certainly have the background. One thing a teacher can't afford is a humble opinion. That means both of us are qualified.



But Russ, that would mean one believes in teaching as a means to learning, whereas I suspect, from my own experiences, that it isn’t really like that at all.

If anyone bothers to read the intro. to my website they’ll see I credit a certain Barbara Farr as my best teacher, ever. It stems from the day I pulled out my Desert Eagle in the classroom and she said: Robert, if you wish to make a statement, try words. No, that’s not true at all: in Scotland we had mostly crow, starling and lots of thrush which, I’m assured, is quite uncomfortable but never desert eagles. Must have imagined that bit.

But getting back to the lady in question, her way was to let you write and write and write, and ask you what you wanted to do with your life. At the time, the only subjects that appealed to me were English and art and, in my fantasies, photography. Unfortunately for me, though art was a subject right up to Highers level, in academia, it was frowned upon as rather a loser’s choice and didn’t rate well in the published regional glory tables at the end of each scholastic year, a consequence of which mindset was that I allowed myself to be discouraged from following my instincts. We were far more malleable as kids in those days than is the present lot; good for them!

Anyway, my reply to her question, influenced no doubt by the great amount of travelling about I already had under my belt by then, was that I’d be interested in travel writing. Obviously, that’s why I took up engineering, something I loathed but which kept me out of the conscription racket. In retrospect, it was a mistake: I should have paid with two years out of my life for nothing and then taken myself to art school, but we didn’t think like that then, and I sure didn’t have independent money at that age! So, teaching: no, it’s about learning, as she showed me, and you do that for yourself. I have never seen any validity in the stance of those who, when people have a problem, declare: RTFM! One learns from experience – usually – and a few moments with the dealer who sold you the tv is far more productive than hours with any manual. I find. Having just written that one learns from experience, that’s not to deny that one can also make the same mistakes over and over again, even see them coming along, waving, towards one… oh those model ‘possibles’!

Humble opinions, IMHO, are mostly humbug; were they genuine they’d never get posted.

So no, Russ; teaching, for me, would be a hypocricy too far.

;-)

Rob C
« Last Edit: July 01, 2011, 01:16:45 PM by Rob C » Logged

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