Lets hear it for risk.

I have just been contacted by Tom Miles, who runs the excellent industry blog www.photosmudger.com, about his latest draft on what makes a good lecturer.

His blog, by the way, offers a very large range of practical advice  from a photographer who has many years of experience working in  publishing . It is a valuable resource for anyone, students especially, looking to understand the day to day workings of a challenging profession.


He asked if I had any thoughts to feed into this essay before publishing. I thought it might be of use to show you my response as this informs how I go about working with professional photographers and students in colleges.


Culturally, students and professionals are living in a risk averse environment.  This is coupled , in this Facebook Twitter world, with a time in their lives when young students personal development especially, in terms of their identity, self belief and willingness to take risks, is vulnerable.
The detrimental effect on risk was predicted at the time of the introduction of control cultures into education and industry.The impact on staff moral and innovation in education has been stultifying. The knock on effect of this on students has been unfortunate in my experience.
Arts education has always been about risk and innovation  and the students embracing of this was essential. So what stops them?
Anything which destroys passion and curiosity. It is the lecturers role to identify the passions and support the curiosity. I understand that motivational support is not easy when lecturers are equally vulnerable to outside pressures  to comply with institutional demands. I always said creatives need ten cuddles a day. Constant reassurance that they are, and are going to be, great. If not the speed at which they acquire knowledge, self confidence and mature, is slowed.
Students need to be reassured that lecturers are opinion not authority. No one is an authority on them not even themselves. They are explorers of their own direction.  I remembers as student I used to go round all members of staff to find out who agreed with me. This gave me the confidence to pursue the ideas I wanted to explore.
Support is to offer potential solutions to the students dilemmas reassuring them that they should use this information if it feels right to them. Too many staff are looking for students to comply with their opinions rather that trust their instincts when judging the value of the advice.

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