People who have my respect in teaching
I like artists. When I say that I don’t mean a cliched stereotype of what people think an artist is meant to be: hippy, with paint smeared all over their shirt, looking like they’ve just thrown down their palette. I mean I like what they represent. To me, artists can be anyone who have taken their own time, thinking and creativity, applied to their own situation, needs and context, and as a result they come up with something that shines.
It’s not about comparing themselves to others, which can be a reducing, zero sum game. It’s about making the most of what you have, getting inspiration and building something. Comparing yourself to others leads to the “Red Queen Effect”, where it takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place. You’ll never perform well like that. You just have to look at yourself and think about your own work: what am I doing? How can I take greater ownership of my role? How can I develop my craft further?
If you had a number of artists in your department, how would you manage them? Would you provide an environment where they could flourish and do even better? Or would you try to hold them back, and cut their legs from under them because you were worried about the detrimental effect they might have on employees who hadn’t found their zone yet?
How about creating a department where all staff can be artists? Finding their own path and doing well on that? Without feeling compared to others in a negative way, which would be detrimental to them?
If we have space to nurture our interests, follow our creative bents, apply them and develop our ideas, channeling this into our teaching, then obviously it’s going to be an amazingly rich and rewarding experience for all. And the beauty of it would be that it would lead to bright, zesty, innovative teaching teams. People bring amazing things to the table when this happens. Or just produce consistently good stuff at any rate.
Phrases like “find your flow” come to mind. If you’re struggling for a starting point, focus on the priorities, then make it authentic. Give it a twist of you. Get a little bit of joy by doing it as a creative exercise.