I just stumbled across this on n+1 Magazine’s website - an excerpt from Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment.
The title says it the best: “Seemingly Innocuous Assignments That Will Lead to Improbable Calamities.”
I wonder if this also applies to teaching writing students.
What NOT to do:
Bring in a song you’re embarrassed you like / bring in images of past work you’re now embarrassed by
Here the opposite proves to be true: whatever marginal credibility you have as an authority figure with undergrads will prevent them from staging a revolt in response to this first-day-of-class, getting-to-know-you assignment. Grad students, on the other hand (especially if you’re not too much older than some of them), will demand that you participate, creating a situation where you’re all sitting around listening to an unforgivable Gin Blossoms song you taped off the radio in eighth grade while watching a slideshow of the weird-shaped canvas/wall drawing show you did with the Belgian gallery you haven’t heard from since. Squeezing your eyes shut hard as the song comes to its lame conclusion, you will wonder how anyone in the group ofMFA students you’re supposed to work closely with for the next two years will ever take anything you say seriously.
Bring food to class
Someone will decide that everyone in the class would like to unknowingly eat pot muffins at 8 am on a Tuesday. You will have to wander around for the next four hours with a bunch of tripping students, trying to explain to those unfamiliar with the experience that “yes, it’s way more intense than smoking it” and “this will only last a couple of hours” and “no, there’s nothing wrong with your heart, just stop holding your breath.”
One particularly innocent student, someone you suspect has never so much as taken a drag off a cigarette, will actually start doing the “dude, have you ever really looked at your hands?” thing that nobody ever does except in movies about hallucinogens made by people who have never taken hallucinogens. When you, concerned, ask how she’s feeling, she will pause for a long time before slowly looking up from her outstretched palms and thoughtfully replying, “I feel very … focused.”