Monday, March 2, 2009

I changed the blog title, but can't figure out how to change the URL--maybe it should just stay the same for all our viewers out there. I never used the word didactic because I never knew what it meant, and still don't. Cyrus is probably right, the word sounds pretty elitist so it might mean elitist things.

I guess I didn't answer your question very well, sorry about that. My most recent project is a free service called Build Something Together where I take proposals from anyone who needs help building something. When a proposal is an obviously attempt to get me to do everything by myself, I will turn it down. But most of the time I accept the proposals and put them on the schedule. Currently I have completed seven projects and have fifteen more to finish in the next three months. I seem to be making more art than ever because I no longer have the role of art genius, but instead other people have the genius ideas and I just help build them.

When I started the project I wasn't thinking about how I could illustrate We Make the Road By Walking, I just wanted to meet new people in Portland. I had been helping people build things for years before this, but it was an informal thing that I did with friends. When I got out to Portland I missed doing things with people and started the service. While working with various people I am learning more and more how to be an effective teacher by listening and responding. The entire proposal stage reflects what I said about students telling the teacher what they want or need to learn. If I remember correctly, Miles Horton talks a bit about being a facilitator and not a leader. The difference is that he is able to listen and suggest options, instead of demanding things without listening.

Julia Cole, my teacher in undergrad, once told me that there were two ways of being a guide--one was to walk in front, and the other was to walk beside. Every time I am given a position of leadership I think about what she said and try to walk beside. With Build Something Together I come to the table with a set of skills people are interested in learning about, and they come to the table with an idea that I am interested in learning about. A trade happens, and we both know it--by the end of the project we are both satisfied and don't feel like one owes the other anything more.

When I had my interview for this program I was asked, "What do you want to get out of this?" I replied that I want to learn how to teach. By reading We Make the Road By Walking I realized teaching is an everyday activity, and if you want to be a good teacher--you must always listen before talking. Everyone has a different story to tell, and they are all interesting.

I hope you are happier with this response.

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