I love teaching. Teaching is an art, co-equal for me to my artistic work in writing and theater. Teaching has made me a better writer and theater artist. I am the type of artist who has to have a big footprint in the every day world in order to be productive. I don’t really work from pure imagination. Reason, insight and detailed observation are the pre-requisites for what I create. My goal is unblinking and compassionate truth in my work. Teaching has made me more soulful and more other-directed. I have always taught in one way or another, but I am so happy that teaching has become a major focus of my life at this point in my life. Teaching is a way of making all of my experience prior to the moment I walk into a classroom useful.
Education and art are very closely related. All art teaches. The artist himself is not the teacher. The experience of creating art, for the artist, and the experiencing of viewing it, for the audience, teaches. True art makes all who fully participate in it deeply think and feel. Deep thought and feeling are transformative. When we learn we change and vice versa. The world opens up a bit or in a major way and nothing is the same. Living a life committed to art and education makes life an art and education in and of itself. It is often said that experience is the best teacher, but the educational value of experience only exists when we do it in a certain way. That certain way is art. Art is a rejection of the shallow life.
There are three common imperative sentences that the artist hears when young and learns to defy.
1) Don’t think so much.
2) Don’t be so sensitive.
3) Shut up.
The three aspects of artistic and learning experience are:
1) Deep thought.
2) Deep feeling.
3) Direct, sincere and honest communication of that thought and feeling.
The history of humanity has been created by people in all walks of life who have committed themselves to having artistic and learning experience.
I am an art (the art of acting) teacher at UIC Business School because I teach Professional Presence, Ethics, Business Communications and Management courses. All of these courses are intended to develop the students as professionals (and by extension human beings) who can present themselves well, interact with others successfully, make reasoned, informed and competent decisions, determine resolutions to ethical quandaries and lead. All of these learning objectives can be summed up as “learning how to act” as business professionals.
Good acting on stage is precisely the same as good acting in life. One has to understand one’s role and perform it with integrity, authenticity and honesty. One has to confidently know oneself to be the equal to the world and respond to it with a sharp and critical mind and an open heart. One has to fearlessly initiate creative choices and adjust them as one receives the world’s response.
Teaching is leading others to skilled authorship of their own lives while indirectly sharing the experience of your creation of your own life.
Art. Theater. Education. Writing. Me. You. One.
Copyright 2015 Richard Thomas
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