Good for Nothing, Nothing for Good


I became a real teacher in November 2021. Real is in italics because I'm not sure if I feel like whatever a real teacher is and I certainly don't feel certified to be one. I guess there is a difference somehow because my experience with being the educator rather than the educatee was mostly formed by giving workshops at art schools. In these workshops (usually radio or video related) I dropped in, dropped things I knew (knowledge) and then dropped out again. I didn't feel like a teacher during these times and I didn't feel the pressure to be one either.

In almost every workshop I've given, I try to promote the embrace of amateurism, DIY and self-made techniques, methods and processes. I think this is somewhat a reflection of the ideals that I share with the others who I do the workshop with, our 'early-stage 'careers' and also a reaction to the way things are done in Dutch art educational institutes.

When I was studying at the school that I now teach at, I felt a pressure to create something of high quality. This was particularly evident during the process of creating a final graduation project that was supposed to propel me into professional life. Looking back at this time I see that it was both unnecessary and also extremely unhelpful to feel this pressure, which probably came from both myself and my environment.

The class I teach now is called the Design Inquiry Group, it existed before I started teaching it (it was also known as Playlab) so I'm still trying to understand what it's for since the name doesn't really give anything away. I found myself thinking about it as a course that would actually question what design education could be. The first semester of the course I put together with Marthe Prins whom I teach with, was a course about 'doing nothing'. The course included practices, readings and ways of thinking about doing nothing as resistance.

Amateurism was also perfectly inline with this subject, which meant I didn't have to justify my amateur-leaning ways. However, I do worry about teaching future courses where amateurism might not be inline with the education built for the production of 'creative professionals'. However, I want to try to sit with this feeling since I think it can be fruitful to think through and also work with.

So I'll continue being an amateur and maybe I'll never feel like a 'real' teacher but I'm pretty okay with that at the moment.