Why don’t you teach?

24 07 2011

My friends sometimes ask me ‘why don’t you teach photography?’ And this is something I can ask myself as well. I have done it, on an ad-hoc basis, many years ago. And it was very enjoyable.

Teaching, for me, comes with a huge duty of care. It’s not just about handing down judgements or showing off to adoring students. It’s a lifetime, condensed into the few weeks or months that your student wants to commit. And trying to condense a lifetime is, well, a pale imitation. Ever had powdered mashed potatoes? Just not the same, is it? No matter how much milk or butter you add, something is missing.  So I guess we just have to set our sights a little lower.

I think that is my biggest barrier to teaching: I seek perfection – whereas teaching can only set the ball in motion, tease out a creative interest, or fuel an active imagination. Perfection is the horizon. An unattainable goal, set at infinity, beyond the reach of we mere mortals.

So perhaps I should challenge myself, outside of my comfort zone.  To teach in the pursuit of perfection, but without the overriding, crushing self-criticism, that has crippled my artistic life up until now.

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