Friday, June 4, 2010

"Those Who Can, Do....

and those who can't, teach."

I'm sure everyone's heard that little saying. As a teacher, I was always a little sensitive to it, but a recent experience has put a new spin on the saying.

For the past three weeks, I've been teaching an Introduction to Photoshop class for 13 college students. Some of the students had some previous experience with Photoshop, but there were also people who had no prior knowledge of the program. I taught the class by using a series of 11 worksheets that went from the really basic stuff (rotating and resizing images) to more advanced concepts (layer masks and color balance). The final assignment was a portfolio of 6 original images that had been manipulated in some "significant way" using Photoshop (meaning they couldn't just slap a single filter over the picture and be done with it). Today was the last day of class, with a showcase of their work.

I was simply blown away by how creative most of the students' work was. One student had what looked like a series of high-end fashion magazine covers. One student had a lovely picture of a guitar body surrounded by a soft fade of sheet music. One student had a complex collage with a shark swimming through it. One student had a black/white image with yellow spots on an umbrella that was stunning in its simplicity. One student took an image of the University's chapel and put it into a snow globe in an image that would make a fantastic Christmas card for campus. One student was showing me how she managed to artfully remove an unwanted bystander from a picture of her family. One student couldn't decide on only six pictures, so her display took up two tri-fold boards and had eight (or ten) images. And I could mention others, but you might be getting tired of this.

I had seen snatches of their work over their shoulders during the past week (except for the magazine covers - that was a total surprise). One day after I'd seen the guitar picture for the first time (made by a student who had never worked with Photoshop before), it occurred to me that this is what teaching is about. To be painfully honest, I am not very creative when it comes to design. I appreciate good design and I know it when I see it, but I can't produce it. However, my teaching gave these students who DO have the creativity and the imagination the tools they needed to produce such beautiful works. It makes me proud and yet humble at the same time. It's ok that I can't "do" - I can teach.

I have the best job in the world.

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