Children who didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer made me a teacher
Many teachers feel a deep calling from within, knowing that they were born to be in front of a class. My case was different.
When my future students found me in the town square in Sayulita, Mexico I must have looked out of place among the artisans selling handmade macramé and silver jewelry, pipes, and tie-dyed beach wear. There I sat next to my blanket covered with small colorfully-glazed ceramic animals I’d made before moving to their small town.
When my future students found me in the town square in Sayulita, Mexico I must have looked out of place among the artisans selling handmade macramé and silver jewelry, pipes, and tie-dyed beach wear.
Tourists visiting the beach town hardly looked twice at my little rabbits, cats and sea turtles, yet they were a magnet for local children. Eyes shining with awe, they crowded around my blanket each evening interrogating me about the little creatures and their creation. Parents and siblings, dragged over for a look, asked still more questions.
My intention in leaving the States a few months before was to dedicate myself to creating art and writing in a place where life moved at a slower pace with less overhead. Never had I considered teaching. So when the kids began to insist that I teach them how to make little animals, I wasn’t that open. I’d resisted teaching before. As an undergraduate in art, I’d been strongly advised to do a teaching certificate. It would’ve been a smart move, I knew. But something held me back. Perhaps it was my concept of teaching as a formal occupation where one must be a complete expert to earn the students’ respect. Or maybe it was that I didn’t want to be pinned down to something so structured. Never had I imagined myself in front of a classroom of students.
Now years later in Mexico, along with my personal reservations, I faced some very concrete obstacles to giving these children a ceramics class. Among them were not having a classroom, materials nor a kiln — add to that my lack of teaching experience. Yet as time went on, it was the very impossible-ness of the situation that began to hook me. There was something in…