The Most Fun Way to Brush Up on Ceramics

Ceramics is not an easy medium to teach. It can be expensive and time consuming. Supplies can be difficult to manage, glazes can be finicky, and kilns can be intimidating. Sometimes there are more questions than answers, and teachers begin to avoid clay. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I just finished teaching the first section of AOE’s Studio: Ceramics class, and I was amazed at the learning that happened and the number of resources participants were able to take back to their classrooms. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of work produced; we have students creating some incredible pieces like the ones seen below.

 

lam with hand-made ceramic base
functional lamp by M. Gazda

 

two plates exploring the theme of "Domestic Space" by Ana Maria Cruz
Two plates exploring the theme of “Domestic Space” by Ana Maria Cruz.

Students are also creating some amazing resources ready for use in the classroom immediately. One student, Amy Roman, was kind enough to share her process board example. Click the image below to download a copy.

process board of clay process
Click for free download!

We covered big ideas and open-ended themes, processes and organization, and ideas that could be taken back to the classroom. Most importantly, though, we had the chance to CREATE! Too few teachers take the time to create their own work. This might be the best opportunity the course provides.

three cylindrical clay vessels
Three textured vases with feet/lids and wire handles by Erin Meyers.

It was interesting to see where everyone was coming from when we started the class–there were new teachers looking for ideas, experienced teachers looking for new ways of doing things, and some teachers who just wanted to get into the studio and create some work. Even John Post, who recorded instructional videos for the projects, still enrolled because he was interested in the class–and he loved it. “This was the first online class I had taken, and I learned that with online classes it is easier to fit the work for them into my busy teaching schedule,” he said. “I enjoyed the positive climate of the discussion boards . . .I also enjoyed the fact that I worked on ideas that I normally wouldn’t do on my own.”

three wheel thrown pots with added slip texture by John Post
Three wheel thrown pots with added slip texture by John Post.

This is a common refrain from students in the class–the work is personal and meaningful, it pushes you, and the interactions with other students are something that cannot be found anywhere else. What I love most about the Studio: Ceramics course is it showed me hands-on, studio-based learning really is possible in an online format. Whether that hands-on learning is taken back to the classroom, or just used to create your own work, Studio: Ceramics offers a unique opportunity for art teachers. This opportunity, combined with the collaborative and collegiate environment I’ve found in every AOE class in which I’ve participated, has made Studio: Ceramics an incredible experience from beginning to end.

What are your thoughts about an online studio class?

How do you feel about teaching ceramics? What about making your own work? 

Timothy Bogatz

Learning Team

Tim is a high school teacher from Omaha, NE. His teaching and writing focus on the development of creativity, problem-solving, and higher-order thinking skills.

Related