Monday, March 10, 2008

What constitutes training?

I just finished reading and commenting on Imogene's great post about alternative craft vs. established craft as it came through in a presentation at the SNAG conference (Society of North American Goldsmiths). And it made me start thinking about just what constitutes artistic training.

I took 3 semesters of metalsmithing in 2005-2006. I was looking to learn some basic skills in a structured setting. And then I was looking to get out before I became too entrenched in an institutional establishment. And I intentionally skipped the whole degree process (I already have a double BA in other non-art subjects) and continued practicing and learning on my own time. And, for me, this was the best way to learn.

So, when I hear the opinion that one person's training isn't as good as someone else's because one person taught herself and one person graduated with a degree, it just seems like academic snobbery to me.

My comment in response to Imogene's post: If you spend several hours a week with torch in hand teaching yourself how to solder, that’s a sort of training. And if you sit around with a sketchpad at a coffeeshop and work on designs, that’s a sort of training. You may not have an instructor leaning over your shoulder or be responsible for turning in those sketches for a critique, but you’re still learning.

And it seems to me that the most important part of education is that the subject is learning and taking it to heart.

Anyway, all of this also reminded me of a wonderful presentation from the 2006 TED Conference. Take a gander (it's about 20 minutes long). Maybe it's time we all start thinking differently about education and training.

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