When I started teaching at the beginning of this year I didn't really know what to expect. Since then I have learned a lot. Other people have, too. They learned things about illustration, I learned things about people.
I'm 33 and ancient. What I say is rarely questioned although I am neither a loud nor an aggressive teacher. They just accept the wisdom such old age brings with it.
I have learned to let them talk. They don't need anyone to tell them about life's lessons. For many of them this is the first time they live away from home. They just finished Highschool. And now they can invent themselves all anew. So many possibilities. So many things to think about. So many things to talk about. So I listen.
I have learned that being firm is important. But one can say the same thing in a negative or a positive way. Beginning with the things that are good in an illustration, then talking about those things that could be better is much more helpfull and much less offending than being blunt and saying 'this isn't good'. It's rather hard to refuse making some changes or adjustments if you've just been paid a compliment.
But even with all this wisdom there are still times when I'm surprised, and, more often than not, humbled by something they do or say. Sometimes there are exceptional illustrations. Sometimes there is progress I wouldn't have expected.
And tonight there was a young girl from Georgia. The eastern european country, not the state. She's a tiny little bit, happy, friendly, a bit on the nervous side. She speaks very good German but is always a bit breathless. I knew she had studied German in school and had then been an Au Pair somewhere in Germany. Ours is a complex language and being as fluent as she is takes a lot of effort. I know that, and in my mind, had given her credit for it.
Tonight we were talking about this and that while she worked on a drawing. I asked things about Georgia, a country I know literally nothing about. She told me bits and pieces about politics, arts, how people live... I asked her if she missed it. Of course, she replied, but she'd always wanted to come to Germany. In school she had the choice between English and German. She was one of three pupils who chose German. When I wanted to know why (after all, English is the one language that makes things a lot easier in life for all of us), she looked at me with surprise. Because Germany has produced some of the greatest minds and artists! What a question, her face seemed to say. Musicians and philosophers, too. She had studied German because she had always wanted to read German literature. Not translations. The real deal.
Had she read the Germany philosophers, I asked. Some of them. Nietzsche she liked best. Although, and here she looked a bit puzzled, she doesn't understand why he so dislikes the old greek philosophers. They weren't bad, after all!
So tonight I need to write myself a note: Don't put people into convenient little boxes with convenient little labels. They might express their thoughts in funny ways and naive language. But at the same time they might be more widely read than I ever will be.
Hanna, my favorite sister, you won yesterday's advent gift. You don't need to write me your address, it's one of three I actually know by heart.
To any of you who are new to this blog: There is a continuing giveaway until the 24th of December. Every day I give one little present to one of you readers. If you want to enter the draw, leave a comment each day on that day's post.