Teaching Philosophies

Faculty Teaching Philosophies:

1. Barbara Seidenath, Critic, Jewelry + Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design,   Teaching Philosophy
download seidenath.doc
2. Dr. Daniela Sandler, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota, Teaching Philosophy
download sandler.doc
3. Mary Kawenski, Professor, Apparel Design Department, Rhode Island School of Design,  Teaching Philosophy
download kawenski.doc


Barbara Seidenath
Brooch, 2009
silver, enamel, yellow sapphire
2.75 x 2 x .25″
Jewelry and Metalsmithing, Rhode Island School of Design
 Junior Casting, Junior Jewelry Design I
Harriet Sheridan Teaching Certificate 

Barbara Seidenath’s Teaching Philosophy: The Privilege
While building a professional career as a jewelry artist and designer, I was offered the opportunity to teach. I accepted the challenge and it has been a very rewarding experience.  To me teaching is a privilege. It continues to be a reflective practice for me as I learn from my students while teaching them. To me teaching means being clear, tolerant, flexible yet firm, compassionate and critical, patient, enthusiastic, encouraging and unclouded by self serving intentions…

I feel fortunate to have studied with many gifted teachers, among them Professor Hermann Jünger at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich, Germany whose integrity as an artist, educator and critic set a high standard for his students. He served as a role model and mentor, and observing him and his art practice was one of the most inspiring aspects of my graduate education.

I consider myself a passionate person, believe in the importance of sharing my enthusiasm in all the aspects of creativity and learning with my students. Teaching by example continues to be a source of inspiration for my students. Maintaining an active connection to my work and the professional world is an essential part of being a vital teacher. I have experienced the liberating effects of mastering tools and materials in my own work. This freedom allows me to visualize my concepts appropriately. Acquiring the skills necessary to become a jeweler requires discipline and patience. Neither are easy accomplishments to master at the age students enter the profession.

My intent is to provide a nurturing and highly challenging environment that supports personal and creative growth and builds technical competence.  In undergraduate courses an assignment will balance the technical information or skill that I intend to cover with intellectual stimulation.  The students are asked to develop their problem solving skills and think critically.

It is important to utilize a clear means of communication, helping students to understand questions about design and technique.  Breaking up information so it can be understood by students with a variety of learning styles is very important. When introducing an assignment a suitable reading is useful to initiate a thought process and provide intellectual stimulation along with classroom discussion on topics related to the assignment. I consider the knowledge of history to be very important and I provide my class with as much exposure to historical and contemporary examples as possible in order to help them understand their position as artists. Visual materials (slides, samples), a fieldtrip or a visit to the collections at a museum help the student understand the task. Technical information is most effectively conveyed through hands-on demonstration and subsequent application of the process by the student. As an example:  the technical goal of the assignment “souvenir brooch” for sophomore level students is to teach the fabrication of pin back mechanisms and various setting techniques. For the design/problem solving component of the assignment the students are asked to investigate and express personal experiences of place, time and memory in the format of personal ornament. I take the class to the RISD museum collections to look at selected examples of victorian souvenir jewelry. After discussing their designs followed by technical demonstrations the students continue to finalize their samples and pieces.

A written evaluation of the completed assignment their performance and a group review of their work encourages them to develop critical thinking and reflective skills.  I aim to engage the students actively in the learning process as much as possible.  I prefer dialogue over a monologue since I consider it more interesting and creative. In my eyes collaboration is a form of dialogue. It encourages responsibility, builds confidence and cultivatesmilarly I find the experience of working closely with my colleagues most constructive. Developing and teaching a consistent curriculum with a team of colleagues within a department is an effective and rewarding experience.

Ultimately I want to see my students graduate as thoughtful makers and designers and independent thinkers. I enjoy accompanying them in the process of discovering their potential and adressing their weakness and hopefully their path will lead them to artistic excellence and independence in all areas of life.

Barbara Seidenath,
Jewelry and Metalsmithing 


Triple Trio Trifecta
Ricky Allman
acrylic, ink on canvas, 36×24″, 2007

MFA Painting, Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University Sheridan Certificate
Taught Drawing/Collage: Works on Paper RISD WS
Currently Associate Professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City

Ricky Allman’s Teaching Philosophy
Critical thinking is the most valuable tool a student can take with them from an educational experience. To be able to ask difficult questions about one’s self, one’s beliefs and one’s environment is an integral step to develop a love of learning. I think it would be ridiculous of me to assume the students I am teaching have the same interests, desires and tastes as I do. Therefore it would be equally ridiculous to force my interests, desires, and tastes on to them. I feel if I were to create “mini-me” artists, that would be a failure. My duty as a teacher is to guide, motivate, and inspire students to discover, through critical thinking, how creative and intelligent they already are, and to give them a desire to grow.

A major part of learning is the accumulation of important ideas, questions and facts. The more sensory experiences tied to the presentation of any given piece of information, the more likely the mind is able to access it later. Fortunately in the visual arts as students see, touch, hear and smell the materials as they begin to practice, ideas can be more easily understood and integrated. In this regard it becomes critical for the students to have as much hands-on experience and experimentation with materials as possible. It is also important for students to see demonstrations along with verbal instruction to allow the students to be better able to grasp new concepts.

It is crucial for an artist to have a strong fundamental and technical basis to draw from throughout his/her career. Exercises such as still-life drawing and figure drawing are still very relevant today. A strong fundamental background does not need to hinder creativity. Additionally I don’t think that fundamentals must be labored over after sufficient proficiency is made apparent. Every single technical aspect of painting needn’t be taught. A wide variety of choices and how to execute these choices should be made available to the student and then s/he is able to seek out the more specific skills necessary for their own method of working. If a student has a strong background then s/he has the necessary tools to choose from in many styles and modes of working, so that if a chosen style goes out of vogue or is no longer intriguing to the artist they have the ability to then move into another vein of art-making, with as much skill and talent as the one they are leaving behind.

As anyone who has ever taught knows that the teacher gains just as much if not more than the student through the educational process, that is part of what makes teaching so rewarding. I can pinpoint the pivotal moments in my becoming an artist to a few key lessons from a few key teachers. These experiences are incredibly valuable to me as an artist and as an individual. I remember when a teacher told me that I knew the rules and now it was time to break them. It was at the precise moment in my development that I needed to hear it; it stayed with me for a long time. To be in a setting which allows me the opportunity to give back what was given to me is my main motivation in teaching.

1. Fleming Jeffries,  Virgina Commonwealth University, Qatar, Teaching Philosophy
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2. Maria Gamboa, Alumni, MFA Painting, Rhode Island School of Design, Teaching Philosophy
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3.Matthew E. Clowney, Rhode Island School of Design Critic,  Teaching Philosophy
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4. Jerlyn Jareunpoon, Alumni, MFA  Graphic Design, Rhode Island School of Design,  Teaching Philosophy
download jareunpoon.pdf

Faculty Teaching Philosophies:
1. Barbara Seidenath,  Jewelry + Metalsmithing Faculty, Teaching Philosophy
download seidenath.doc
2. Dr. Daniela Sandler, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Minnesota, Teaching Philosophy
download sandler.doc
3. Mary Kawenski, Professor, Apparel Design Department, Teaching Philosophy
download kawenski.doc

Teaching Philosophy Assignment 2016

Teaching Philosophy Readings from National Teaching and Learning Centers