Finding my lessons to teach

A nearly full calendar year of mandatory work from home has been a mixed bag for me. I’m good at working from home, and have a long freelance career behind me, so that wasn’t really the tough part. Working at an agency, but from home, was a bit harder. In the typical office setting you’re collaborating, and you’re sharing a lot of the small stuff, the stuff that makes the work better in hard-to-measure ways. But at some point this year, I did start to try and measure those ways.

And what I found was, sure, the lockdowns and social anxieties are not helping my general mood, but there was something else that was eating at me. It took me a while to realise that, in the transition from a 50-colleagues office to a one-dog-on-my-lap office, I lost the little moments of education. The sharing of arcane design tool knowledge, the brief can-you-come-have-a-look sparring… the education. The teaching that we do, back and forth, while we work to answer design questions together. And suddenly a lot of my frustration made sense. I wanted to teach more than I could.

Despite only a small amount of teaching experience (I taught a web design class to high schoolers at some point – but I may as well have been a cat herder), I decided to ask around for ❝opportunities❞. I started compiling ideas for what I wanted to teach, based on things I knew were absent from my own education. It suddenly gave me a great sense of responsibility, because I think when you realise that you can explain something that others don’t yet know, you have to do that work.

Very few art schools teach writing. Students graduate with a passion they cannot always explain, and that’s a key part of many jobs. You need to be able to articulate yourself to clients, colleagues, collaborators, or even just yourself. And in my own job, that articulation can make all the difference. So I made a small pitch package of a class I wanted to teach, ideally to a broader audience of art school students, and I called it Articulation 101.

And… amazingly, I got a response. Enthusiastic acceptance, in fact. And now I’m a visiting lecturer at HBK Saarbrücken, teaching a group of about twenty students how to describe things clearly, how to find joy in writing, and how to work towards the understanding of your audience. And I feel better about everything: all the thoughts I’ve been sitting on, all the energy I’ve had to keep in a small room, and all the work that I can do now that I’ve separated my drive for teaching from my day job. And sure, I still ‘teach at work’ to some extent, but I’ve found an outlet for different impulses. It’s been a revelation and a relief. I’m using my responsibility to make sure the next generation of artists and designers feels a little more excited about picking up the pen.

Bette(r) Days celebrates the things that did not suck in 2020. Each day in December, we’ll be posting about the highlights of our collective garbage fire of a year, type-related or not.