A day in the life of an Art Lecturer – the art of balancing

Published: 25 Sep 2017 By Sasha Pleasance

Bruce Chivers

Bruce Chivers – Art Lecturer and Potter

I first came to the college as an artist in residence and just taught 3D design and ceramics to degree students. The college campus then moved to a new purpose built-building and so my job role developed into teaching across all art programmes.

My day

I teach across all levels, from level 2 to degree level.

8.30 – arrive at college, this time is often spent doing administrative tasks and informal meetings with the team.

9.15-12.30 – University of Arts London (UAL) Level 3

1.30-4.00 – Foundation degree

I teach degree students for a full day once a week.

This block approach to lessons means there is reasonable continuity throughout the week and it is easy to see how students make progress in these extended lessons.

Being a potter who teaches and a teacher who pots

The college is very supportive of me in my teaching role alongside supporting me as a practicing artist and encourages CPD – all the art teachers in the department here are practicing artists.

I don’t separate teaching from being an artist. I am a potter and do individual exhibitions, but being a potter I have always passed on knowledge and teaching has always been part of the package, I suppose.

Potters become more well-known by the students that follow them. Most of my ceramic students become better potters than me!

I have always been a teacher, be it either full-time or part-time, secondary or FE. Students keep me younger, as long as my sense of humour holds out I can usually deal quite well with students. It’s the administrative duties that can be a little frustrating.

I am primarily an educator, not an administrator – my concern is always primarily with the students. I’m probably in the situation now that I get as much, or more, satisfaction when I see a Level 3 with a few GCSEs ending up with a BA Hons rather than a student who was  A* at the start. I enjoy everyone reaching their potential and achieving, but sometimes it’s the ones who get given the opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily always get before coming on the course that I love to see succeed.

At the top level, degree students inspire me the most because, if motivated, these students are free to experiment, and I encourage them to do so, but I also learn from their experimentation. The other thing I also like about my job is the interaction with the other art teachers, artists and academic staff at the college. I do find teaching tiring and demanding but so rewarding.  I always divide my time between teaching and my own work; I currently have pieces in two permanent exhibitions. It’s a balance, but one that complements. Finding the balance, that’s the key!

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