Teaching Statement as an Otis College Faculty and Alumnx

Teach for justice and equality.

I view every class I teach as a chance to arm my students with creative tools to dismantle authoritarian ideologies. I bring this intention to my classes by highlighting the work of marginalized people and practices. I particularly emphasize the contributions of non-Western artists, queer artists, artists of color, and artists working for economic justice. I do this because I know these examples inspire and inform my diverse students to change the world for the better. I want my students to birth magical, liberating futures.

Give permission.  
Learning happens when you let students take purposeful risks. When I teach Senior Practice Research and Senior Studio, I see first-hand how important it is to let students determine their own trajectories. At the same time, they thrive because they know I'm there for them no matter what. The minute students feel they are supported instead of judged they create surprising and beautiful things.

Make it fun.
My goal is to engage students in an exchange of expansive ideas, diverse stories, challenging exercises, fantastic games, and brilliant failures with the hope they will want to become as intellectually inquisitive and creatively adventurous as possible. I want them to ultimately put their passions and knowledge to work, altering existing paradigms of contemporary cultural production. My instruction seeks to create intrinsic learning, where students engage with class material because they want to learn, not because they need to receive a passing grade.

Respect your students.
I treat my students as adults, with the respect they deserve. I do this because it helps them own their educational journey, and because I know they will eventually become my colleagues, peers, and friends. I’ve taken students to San Francisco, Big Bear, and Rome, Italy and every journey has reinstilled in me the belief that my students are resilient, resourceful, and more mature than they are often given credit for. I treat them how I would want to be treated while reassuring them that I’ll be there to help should they need me. The results are always exceptional; even the shyest, most intimidated students emerge empowered and brave, ultimately surprising themselves.

Let go of authority.
My role as a teacher and mentor is to allow my students to rely on my instruction less and less as they progress towards graduation. I know I’ve done my job when they don’t need me anymore. This happens every year during the Senior Show when I watch my students speak effortlessly about their work with industry professionals, alumni, and fellow students. I cherish being able to play a role in this critical transformation, nurturing pupils into practicing professionals.

Fight for the future.
I teach because I believe in the power of young artists. I believe the generational cohort comprising Otis' student population is the most creative, intelligent, politically conscious, kind, hard-working mass of productive change-makers to ever walk the planet and they deserve a better world than the one they live in now. I try my best to remind other people - especially members of the Otis community - of this whenever possible, from my advocacy for a student-centered college attendance policy, to demanding student representation in all college decision-making affairs. I believe students should have a seat at the table and a say in their future. I aim to help students realize their agency and take ownership of the power they have so they can use that power with purpose and care to create a better academic world for future artists.

Dedicate yourself.
I am an Otis alumnx, having graduated from the college's MFA Fine Arts program. Otis made me who I am and allowed me to meet the most important mentors, comrades, and friends I’ve ever known. I’m lucky to teach alongside some of these inspiring people today. I owe Otis everything. I have no intention of ever leaving, and I am excited to be part of our college's future.

©2024 Tucker Neel. All rights reserved.