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TO TEACH OR NOT TO TEACH?

April 13, 2011

After reading The Redheaded Actress’ post about survival jobs, I thought about quitting my survival job and what I could do to maintain my artistic lifestyle without sacrificing my sustenance.  So I began brainstorming.  Think about all the artists you know.  Then think about the first artists you ever met.  For me, these were teachers, mentors, and educators.  Most artists within the Dramaturgy field stay deeply rooted in academia. Some people go to years of school just to become an educator… scour the job market in search of a group of young minds to fill with knowledge.  I, personally, couldn’t wait to get into the professional world.  I adored my professors, but I learned from them and now it’s time to make my own way.  Is it really a “survival job” or can it become your life’s work?

What do you do with the knowledge you have?  Write a book…  Eh, who has the patience?  Bestow it on your friends and family… Eh, who cares?  Well, why not bestow it on those who are willing to pay to receive it?  There are so many good reasons to teach.  Without teachers, I would have never made it this far in life.  If no one ever taught anyone anything, this world would have fallen to pieces eons ago.

Then the anxiety sinks in.  Am I a “sell out?”  Have I abandoned my work to talk about my work?  What if you teach what you know about theatre… and your students go out and use that knowledge better than you ever could?  Is it natural to resent your students?  After all, what good is knowledge if it goes unused?  That is the goal, right?  To have your knowledge utilized for the greater good… to make great theatre.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Bert Silverberg permalink
    April 13, 2011 12:36 pm

    I went to college as a Drama major with a goal NOT of entering the world of professional theatre, but of teaching theatre. And I have been fortunate to have taught Theatre at the college level for nearly 37 years. Overall, this career choice has been very rewarding.

    As to your question about how I feel as a teacher when one of my students enter the theatre profession and succeeds “better than [I] ever could,” nothing makes me prouder or more fulfilled. That result is one of the outcomes that makes teaching, despite the inevitable frustrations, so worthwhile.

  2. April 13, 2011 3:08 pm

    I have similar fears as I consider going to grad school for film. Although I don’t think I’d mind teaching, what if I go through all this school and then go straight into a career in academia without ever actually making films???? But in many ways the idea of teaching is so appealing…

    • The Restless Dramaturg permalink
      April 14, 2011 9:44 pm

      Though I know you CAN teach film making without having made films of your own, I feel the experience would be that much richer, for both you and your students, if you had first hand experience to impart; as well as a few misadventures anecdotes to encourage them along their journeys in the filmmaking world.

  3. The Restless Dramaturg permalink
    April 14, 2011 9:40 pm

    I do regret never getting the chance to ask my professors how they felt about teaching me while it was happening. I often wonder if I could be as inspirational as they are. But the moments I carry with me into this professional world are those that reflect the inside information; the little anecdotes of how to handle this or that in rehearsal or how to get around this in production. In my opinion, nothing is a better learning experience than being thrown into the fire, so to speak. That’s what grad school was for me, and it was just enough of a thrill to get me set on the path of seeking more hands-on work. However, the University setting is one of the most plush atmospheres to create and experiment with theatre and to embrace the radical ideas of todays youth. I appreciate all that students have to offer in terms of ideas and interpretations. After all, I was one for a significant portion of my life. But to be on the other side of the desk… I have my reservations.

  4. Russ permalink
    April 18, 2011 10:19 am

    Interesting thoughts, Restless Dramaturg! Here’s my response “From the Dramaturg’s Desk” on TheCallboard.com: http://ow.ly/4CuPJ.

  5. April 18, 2011 4:02 pm

    Thank you Restless Dramaturg, following TheCallboard in suit, I posted my response to this on the Art & Soul Acting Blog: http://www.blog.artandsoulacting.com/ — thanks for inspiring a whole lot of thought!

  6. April 20, 2011 1:31 pm

    I want the best of both worlds. I’m working (extremely hard) to get my footing as an artist, but I’d love to teach while doing that. I think the best teachers are those who are still working and learning for themselves. When I was in college, the difference between the professors who were working in the field while teaching in the classroom was tangible. Not to say my stictly academic professors were any better or worse necessarily, but there was a different approach and style.
    I find that teachers working in the feild are more business minded than their counterparts. They’re naviagating the development of a commerical production that is expected to succeed and make money for part of their week and they bring that in with them. They’re straight shooters and no-nonsense.
    The academic educators err on the nurturing of a new artist. They’re heavier on process than on product. They want you to stretch yourself, not a dollar.
    Both are necessary in a developing artist’s education.

Trackbacks

  1. Are acting teachers sell-outs? [dramaturg's desk] | TheCallboard
  2. Cyber Salon « The Green Room
  3. Teaching (Revisited) « The Green Room
  4. To Teach Is The Answer – test

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