My approach to teaching is shaped by my personal and professional experiences as an artist, designer, and educator. I believe that exploration, creativity, and relationships are at the heart of learning. I approach teaching as an opportunity for discovery within the learning process for both me and my students.
My classroom emphasizes building transformative environments that nurture creativity and build confidence. Although I am the subject expert in a course, I believe students and the instructor should collaborate to innovate. When learning takes place within a reciprocal learning environment, we are able to make new discoveries. It is the idea of working together for a larger goal of pushing boundaries and forging new paths that is at the very core of my teaching philosophy. Nurturing students’ creativity is as important as learning a new tool or technology. Everything starts with an idea or creative vision; therefore, it is essential that students know how to draw from their own creativity and find their voice.
When creating assignments, I leave ample room for students to take initiative on what they will create in class. I encourage students to interpret assignments based on their own interests so they can mold the projects into something that is relevant to their own lived experience. I also establish a learning community that allows for the questioning of their work, of their peers, and of me as the instructor. As a result, I encourage students to engage deeper in course topics through the exploration and promotion of their individual creative processes. In this way, students transform their thinking and begin to grow within an educational environment.
I am committed to mentoring and advising students both in and outside of class. I have served on students’ capstone thesis committees, with many students seeking my guidance in the arts. I have also supervised independent studies, with students of Color, who are creating culturally relevant work that centers on issues of diversity, inclusion, and social justice. As someone who identifies as a person of Color, students from minoritized backgrounds seek me out for advice and mentorship beyond academics. I share my personal experiences on how to navigate the art world as someone who understands the importance of representation. In addition, I facilitate conversations in class with all students to discuss and critique issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I utilize these moments as positive and encouraging learning opportunities, knowing that I am educating tomorrow’s cultural creatives, designers, artists, and educators.
Please view selected examples of student work at: christopherirvin.com/proj-cat/student-work-teaching