I’ve been thinking about writing this entry for a while as I often bring it up in Lead Graffiti’s workshops. It would be good if we could get students to read it before they came.
When I was teaching in the Visual Communications Group at the University of Delaware, to add a bit of pressure to my students, I would often raise the question “What would a good student do? Right here. Right now.” to turn a simple opportunity into a miracle.
Most all educational programs do a reasonable job of exposing their students to educational opportunities, but the question is often, what does the student do with that opportunity. Some teachers probably give better assignments. Some schools have more or better field trips & speakers. And they all have libraries. Everyone has access to almost every website, blog, tweet and photograph on the planet.
We’ve had some 850 students over the past 5 or so years who have interacted with Lead Graffiti through workshops, tours & shorternships. Sometimes professors through their classes drag their students through the experience and at other times it is a choice that the student has scheduled and paid for on their own.
We at lead Graffiti surely think that one of our workshop experiences has value, but we’d like for it to have 5 times the value. We give the studio tour. We show some of what we think is our best work and we show work from a number of other letterpress shops. But to really find a way to take the experience up a couple notches we need a bit of help from the student.
I’m writing this with the notion that you’ll find yourself sitting in a letterpress workshop in Lead Graffiti This is a different place than you’ve ever been, organized in a way you couldn’t possibly understand if you had a week, working in a technology (or maybe a non-technology) and a process you don’t know, probably using a measurement system you might barely know, and you are asked to do a creative project without sketches. You cannot possibly know what to do.
Just ask yourself the question, “What would a good student do?” “Right now.” “Here.”
My additional advice is to ask it 150 times that day.
I, for one, do not believe there are no bad questions. There are a gazillion bad questions. They are the ones that don’t move you anywhere. “Do you like working with letterpress?” Duh. “Why do you like working with letterpress?” may get the discussion to a place you need.
You need to find the time to ask a dozen good questions over the day. 10 of you will generate 120 good questions. Some will have good answers. And it is a good idea to ask them so the other students hear those answers. And for them to ask good questions so you can hear those answers. It needs to be a question that a good student would ask. One that moves their work forward and not sideways. It needs to be a question that gets the answers to a number of other questions and also setting up even better questions. Sometimes a good student will just stand close.
“What would a good student do? Right here. Right now.”
Take a look at our online portfolio and see the things we’ve done that interest you. Bring it up when we are showing work. If we don’t show it ask us to. “How did you get the work?” “Did it lead anywhere?” “What is it about that piece that would make you to want to put it in your portfolio?”
Lunch is a good time when things are calmer and everyone is within hearing range.
An interesting things about asking yourself “What would a good student do?” is that it doesn’t take any more time to do it than to not do it.