A Collection of Creepy Vintage Krampus Christmas Postcards in the Book ‘Devil in Design’ (Laughing Squid)

by at 3:29 pm on December 19, 2014 original article here.

Krampus postcard

The 2004 book Devil in Design by Monte Beauchamp (previously) of BLAB! features a beautiful collection of creepy vintage Krampus Christmas postcards. The book, published by Fantagraphics Books, includes interesting snippets of the history of postcards and Krampus. While it’s currently out of print, used copies are available through Amazon or those interested can pick up a copy of Beauchamp’s more recent Krampus book, Krampus: The Devil of Christmas.

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

Krampus postcard

images via Frank Escamilla

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The “One-Point Perspective” in Stanley Kubrick’s Work (Filmmaker Magazine)

by original article here.

We’ve been on a bit of a Kubrick kick lately, and here’s another tidbit to add to the heap. Dubbed “one-point perspective,” the above video showcases the symmetrical framing — often from a down-the-corridor POV — in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut and Paths of Glory. Set, for dramatic effect, to Clint Mansell’s “Lux Aeterna,” the collage demonstrates the versatility of the shot, as it adopts a humorous stance (Alex DeLarge slurping spaghetti) and a one filled with dread (Jack Torrance, the twins).

 

Matisse’s The Green Line (1905) (EPPH)

Original article here.

Matisse, The Green Line or Portrait of Mme. Matisse (1905) Oil on canvas. Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

In 1905 Henri Matisse exhibited this painting of his wife to a shocked Parisian art world. She has a green stripe down her face. Now a Fauvist icon, The Green Line as it is known has been studied for over a century yet revealed little. Most comment that Matisse was primarily interested in decoration, allowing color to dictate form. That must be wrong because form is the principal carrier of meaning. Self-representation is a must as well. These are essential characteristics without which the reputation of Matisse’s art would have plummeted. Yet it has only grown. I have examined The Green Line for 15 years, though, and like others have seen little beyond a portrait. Perhaps, the green stripe is a symbol of his fertility penetrating her mind above. Yet surely, I always thought, there must be more.

L: Detail of Matisse’s The Green Line, rotated R: Detail of Matisse’s Self-portrait, rotated (1900) Oil on canvas. Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris.

Last night I rotated the picture and found what I was looking for: veiled content and meaning. In the block-like forms of Madame’s coiffure resides the “face” of her husband with one “eye” only, all in black and dark blue. The large, circular form of a spectacle on the right; the triangular nose next to it; even the black shadow under his “beard”. It resembles his face as seen in many self-portraits. The one at right is from five years earlier.

Matisse, The Green Line or Portrait of Mme. Matisse (1905)

Mme Matisse, like the wives of many artists, is represented as the feminine version of his own self and the creative part of his androgynous mind. His “head” is in the darkness of hers which is really the creative, cave-like depths of his own imagination. Totally in line with tradition, Matisse represents the model as the artist; he unifies object and subject; and depicts not a true likeness of his wife (few great artists have done that) but a feminine version of his own Self at the moment of creation. Further looking will, no doubt, yield more meaning but not until the viewer acknowledges that this is self-representation and not what most call “portraiture”.

https://i2.wp.com/everypainterpaintshimself.com/article_images_new/MatisseMarguerite1.jpg

Matisse, Marguerite (1906-7) Oil on canvas. Musée Picasso, Paris

The next year Matisse styled the hair of his daughter into a phallus. See Matisse’s Portrait of Marguerite (1906-7), a painting Picasso owned.

Supposedly Hidden from Hitler for Its Supernatural Powers, da Vinci Goes on Rare Public View (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on November 12, 2014 original article here.

The believed 1512 red chalk self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci that's now on public view at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin (via Wikimedia)

The believed 1512 red chalk self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci that’s now on public view at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin (via Wikimedia)

 

Gradually disappearing beneath a mottle of foxing and fading, a 1512 red chalk drawing believed to be a self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci is on rare public view in Italy. Kept in a vault at Turin’s Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library), it’s been hidden for much of the past century — including once secretly taken to Rome during World War II. The strangest version of that journey holds this wasn’t just to keep it safe from art looting, but to guard the drawing’s supposed powers from the Führer.

Last month, just before the Leonardo and the King’s Treasures exhibition opened, Dany Mitzman at the BBC wrote there’s “a myth in Turin that the gaze of Leonardo da Vinci in this self-portrait is so intense that those who observe it are imbued with great strength” and “heaven forbid it should ever fall into Hitler’s hands and give him more power.”

It’s true that it was the sole work spirited away to Rome from the Biblioteca Reale, but that could very well have been its historic power that got it such protection. After all, the long arms of Hitler were scooping up masterpieces around Europe for the proposed Führermuseum, and da Vinci’s “Lady with an Ermine” would fall into Nazi hands.

Yet it’s a good enough story to give the mysticism some internet legs in the past days as the exhibition opens and small groups are allowed into the drawing’s climate-controlled space. Some speculate it may not be da Vinci at all, but the 60-something man with a displeased frown settled amidst flowing hair and beard has done much to define our image of the Renaissance master. The work has only been displayed three times over the past hundred years, and for the Turin exhibition is joined by 80 objects including da Vinci’s Codex on the Flight of Birds and red chalk portrait of a young woman (both recently on loan from Turin to the Morgan Library for their Leonardo da Vinci: Treasures from the Biblioteca Reale, Turin).

Magical or no, that weathered stare of the portrait is deteriorating. Since the 1990s it’s mostly been stabilized, and a paper published in the Applied Physics Letters journal this June reported that scientists had developed a new way to old manuscript gauge degradation through its study. But now is an uncommon opportunity to descend to its vault to meet those storied eyes.

The self-portrait is on view in Leonardo and the King’s Treasures at the Biblioteca Reale (Piazza Castello, Turin, Italy) through January 15. 

Why Banksy Is (Probably) a Woman (Citylab)

 

by Kriston Capps  Nov 4, 2014 original article here.

Image

Andrew Winning/Reuters

 

Banksy Does New York, a new documentary airing on HBO on Nov. 17, opens on a bunch of scofflaws trying to jack an inflatable word balloon reading “Banksy!” from the side of a low-rise building in Queens. These hooligans weren’t Banksy. Neither were the police officers who took possession of the piece after the failed heist and denied that it was art. Nor in all likelihood was the silver-haired man who sold $420 worth of Banksy prints for $60 a pop in Central Park, or the drivers who slowly trawled New York streets in trucks tricked out with Banksy’s sculpture, or the accordionist accompanying one of Banksy’s installations. While the film shares a lot of insights about street art, media sensationalism, viral phenomena, and the people who make Banksy possible, it doesn’t cast a light on who Banksy is or what she looks like.

“Banksy hunters” who tracked the elusive artist over the course of her month-long residency last October never caught a glimpse of her—at least, so far as anyone can be sure. Reporters such as Beth Stebner (New York Daily News) and Keegan Hamilton (then with The Village Voice) didn’t find her. That her identity is still secret is an achievement, given her notoriety and marketability.

But what Banksy Does New York makes plain is that the artist known as Banksy is someone with a background in the art world. That someone is working with a committee of people to execute works that range in scale from simple stencil graffiti to elaborate theatrical conceits. The documentary shows that Banksy has a different understanding of the street than the artists, street-writers, and art dealers who steal Banksy’s shine by “spot-jocking” or straight-up pilfering her work—swagger-jackers who are invariably men in Banksy Does New York.

All of which serves as evidence against the flimsy theory that Banksy is a man.

A scene from Banksy Does New York depicts vandals attempting to make off with the last piece from Banksy’s 31-day residency in New York. (HBO)

 

This hypothesis is not completely unfounded. Eleven years ago, The Guardian‘s Simon Hattenstone met Banksy in a pub in Bristol. The reporter had his own concerns about identifying Banksy, even early into the artist’s career. (“Nobody here seems to know what he looks like. But they all know him. That is, they know of him. That is, if he is a he.”) Hesitations notwithstanding, Hattenstone was convinced: He wrote that the person he interviewed “looks like a cross between Jimmy Nail and Mike Skinner of the Streets.” Your standard bloke.

In the 2010 film Exit Through the Gift Shop, another documentary about street art, Banksy appears as an anonymous figure whose voice is disguised, but who is plainly a man. So that would seem to put the question to rest. Further to the point, the street artist Shepard Fairey referred to Banksy as “he” and “him” throughout an interview with Brian Lehrer the same year. Fairey would be in a position to know, presumably: He’s the closest thing Banksy has to a colleague. Fairey says that Banksy insists on anonymity, in part, to manage his image in the press. “He controls the way his message is put out very carefully,” Fairey says in the interview.

Yet these pieces of evidence confuse rather than clarify the issue. Exit Through the Gift Shop is a classic piece of misdirection. Over the course of the movie, the film’s would-be documentarian, Thierry Guetta, is exposed as a poor filmmaker. Partway through, Banksy takes over the production, turning it into a documentary about the documentarian instead. To complete the meta romp, Guetta, working under the nomme de rue Mr. Brainwash, proceeds to rips off Banksy’s style. All of this means that Fairey, Banksy’s co-conspirator in Banksy’s film, is an unreliable narrator.

Another piece from Banksy’s New York residency. (HBO)

 

During the very first interview that Banksy gave to The Guardian, another figure was present (“Steve,” Banksy’s agent). Another figure is always present, says Canadian media artist Chris Healey, who has maintained since 2010 that Banksy is a team of seven artists led by a woman—potentially the same woman with long blonde hair who appears in scenes depicting Banksy’s alleged studio in Exit Through the Gift Shop. Although Healey won’t identify the direct source for his highly specific claim, it’s at least as believable as the suggestion that Banksy is and always has been a single man.

“Since there is so much misdirection and jamming of societal norms with Banksy’s work, as well as the oft-repeated claim no one notices Banksy, then it makes sense,” Healey tells me. “No one can find Banksy because they are looking for, or rather assuming, a man is Banksy.”

A Banksy outside the Hustler Club in Hells Kitchen. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

 

Part of what makes Banksy’s work so popular is that it doesn’t operate much like street art at all. Think about Invader or Fairey, artists who appear in Exit Through the Gift Shop: Invader’s 8-bit career began with a single “Space Invaders” icon that the artist reiterated endlessly. Fairey’s work started with a stencil of Andre the Giant prefaced by the word “Obey,” again, repeated over and over. While they’re both more like media moguls than graffiti writers today, Fairey and Invader started with the same strategy: to project themselves into public spaces by broadcasting themselves all over it.

That ambition to control a public space through this sort of redundant branding, to make the street your own, is a masculine one—and it’s shared by the overwhelming majority of street artists. In the theater of the public square, graffiti is cousin to cat-calling—which Slate’s Dee Locket smartly explains as the constant effort by men to “create the illusion of dominance in shared public spaces,” specifically by claiming women’s private spaces as their own. Naturally, street art is at best delightful and at worst a nuisance, whereas cat-calling is an intolerable social problem and a legitimate threat to women’s safety. So any comparison between the two only goes so far.

Still from a video graphic mapping Banksy’s October 2013 New York residency. (HBO)

 

Banksy does Brooklyn. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

 

Compared to the highly visible work of Invader or Fairey or dozens of other high-profile street artists, Banksy’s work is different. Girls and women figure into Banksy’s stenciled figures, for starters, something that isn’t true of 99 percent of street art. Banksy’s work has always done more than project “Banksy” ad nauseum. (In fact, a “handling service” called Pest Control exists to authenticate Banksy’s protean projects.) Banksy’s graffiti understands and predicates a relationship between the viewer and the street, something that graffiti that merely shouts the artist’s name or icon over and over (and over and over) doesn’t do.

Maybe it gives Banksy too much credit to say that her work shows a greater capacity for imagining being in someone else’s shoes. (It’s true of her themes of social justice, but it’s also formally true in the way her work anticipates interaction with the viewer.) Andrew Russeth, at the time the editor for Gallerist, the New York Observer‘s art site, finds Banksy’s work lacking in the Banksy Does New York documentary, calling it “art that hits you over the head with its message” and “worst-common-denominator art”—although he had kinder things to say about Sirens of the Lambs, a truck filled with squeaking plush animals. The fine-art world may not love Banksy, but Banksy plainly thinks of herself as part of that world: The New York residency drew on countless tropes from the art world, complete with a wry audio tour guide.

Banksy’s Everything but the Kitchen Sphinx in Queens was dismantled and removed by the owner of an auto-glass shop. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

 

“The real show he is running is on the Internet,” says one savvy observer in the documentary. “It’s like the Internet is almost his graffiti wall.” Close: Her graffiti wall. The savvy manipulation of media to make viral art, to make art about virality, makes Banksy an innovator breaking out of a familiar form. In contemporary art today, that’s a feminine trait: The best selfie artists are women, for example. So are the artists leading the Post-Internet art world.

Given how many men rip off Banksy in Banksy Does New York—watch the film to meet the utterly vampiric art dealer Stephan Keszler, if for no other reason—it’s only fitting to presume that Banksy is a woman. Women experience the street in a different way than men do. Women experience the art world in a different way than men do. Love her or hate her, Banksy is putting herself at the intersection of the street and the art world. Why would anyone expect that position to be occupied by a man?

Works by Banksy titled Kate Moss 2005 appear in a 2009 auction. (Andrew Parsons/Reuters)

 

What most street art looks like. (HBO)

 

 

 

Prehistoric cave prints show most early artists were women (NBC)

By Nidhi Subbaraman original article here.

The Panel of Hands in El Castillo Cave near the village of Puente Viesgo is seen in this handout photo released June 14, 2012.  Scientists using a new...

Alongside drawings of bison and horses, the first painters left clues to their identity on the stone walls of caves, blowing red-brown paint through rough tubes and stenciling outlines of their palms. New analysis of ancient handprints in France and Spain suggests that most of those early artists were women.

This is a surprise, since most archaeologists have assumed it was men who had been making the cave art. One interpretation is that early humans painted animals to influence the presence and fate of real animals that they’d find on their hunt, and it’s widely accepted that it was the men who found and killed dinner.

But a new study indicates that the majority of handprints found near cave art were made by women, based on their overall size and relative lengths of their fingers.

“The assumption that most people made was it had something to do with hunting magic,” Penn State archaeologist Dean Snow, who has been scrutinizing hand prints for a decade, told NBC News. The new work challenges the theory that it was mostly men, who hunted, that made those first creative marks.

Another reason we thought it was men all along? Male archeologists from modern society where gender roles are rigid and well-defined — they found the art. “[M]ale archaeologists were doing the work,” Snow said, and it’s possible that “had something to do with it.”

Dean Snow

Prints from the El Castillo caves showing what are likely male (L) and female (R) palm prints. (Dean Snow)

In National GeographicVirginia Hughes explains Snow’s finding, published this month in American Antiquity. The new paper includes details from 32 stencils found in 11 caves in Spain and France, where some of the hand prints date back almost 40,000 years. Of the 32 stencils, 24 were likely female.

The new reading of the stencils “provokes a whole series of other questions,” Snow said.

“What was the role of women in producing these,” and, where else did they paint? “It may be that all we’re seeing is the fraction of the art that survived,” he said — paintings on exposed stone surfaces would almost undoubtedly have worn off over tens of thousands of years.

Over the last decade, Snow has been building evidence to show how the size of handprints and the relative lengths of fingers can tell us the sex of the artist who made them. He has also co-developed algorithms that can let computers scan and analyze prints quickly, and help identify the sex of the painters.

Other recent work on cave paintings has brought up the possibility that some early European cave art wasn’t made by homo sapiens, but by our hominid cousins, the Neanderthals. Recent dating of the El Castillo cave in Spain, where some of Snow’s prints came from, indicates that the very earliest cave paintings were made 40,000 years ago, when Neanderthals were still thriving in Europe.

New evidence and new research methods continue to alter and fill in our understanding of ancient societies. But one thing’s for sure: As long as humans have been making art, we’ve been printing signatures by its side.

 via National Geographic

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and technology. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

5 Great Teachers On What Makes A Great Teacher (NPR Ed)

By Anya Kamenetz November 08, 2014 original article here.

When we began our 50 Great Teachers series, we set out to find great teachers and tell their stories. But we’ll also be exploring over the coming year questions about what it means for a teacher to be great, and how he or she gets that way. To get us started, we gathered an expert round table of educators who’ve also done a lot of thinking about teaching. Combined, these teachers are drawing on over 150 years of classroom experience:

Ken Bain

Ken Bain is president of the Best Teachers Institute and author of What the Best College Teachers Do. He taught U.S. history on the college level for nearly 50 years — at the University of Texas, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University, New York University and elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

Troy Cockrum

Troy Cockrum is director of innovative teaching for a K-8 school in Indianapolis. He hosts a podcast on the flipped classroom, and is the winner of a 2013-2014 Jacobs Educator Award for using technology to support innovative learning.

 

 

 

 

ERD

Eleanor Duckworth is a research professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a former elementary school teacher with an approach to teaching and research grounded in her study with psychologist Jean Piaget.

 

 

 

 

Renee Moore

Renee Moore is a high school and community college English teacher, a National Board Certified teacher, a member of the board of directors of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and co-chair of its certification council. She also blogs for the Center for Teaching Quality.

 

 

 

 

Jose Vilson

Jose Vilson is a math educator for a middle school in New York City. He’s a blogger and the author of This Is Not a Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education.

 

 

 

 

 

What qualities make a great teacher?

Renee Moore: The Hebrew word for teach has, among its meanings: to aim or shoot like an arrow, to point like a finger, to flow like water. The word reminds me of what parents do when we teach our child to ride a bike. The first time, we may ride with her or turn the pedals. Next time, we steer while she pedals. Finally, the moment comes when we balance her, aim her down the sidewalk, push her off and let go. Great teachers do that: They start or move the minds of their students along a path, prepare them for the journey and propel them into the future. And they do it consistently and passionately.

Ken Bain: … I think we have to avoid the temptation to define everything in terms of what the teacher does to the student. Sometimes, as the title of a wonderful book put it, we teach best with our mouth shut.

I think about the way my youngest grandson is learning to ride a bicycle. It actually isn’t the way Renee describes. Rather, his parents bought him a balance bike when he was barely 3 years old, and simply gave it to him. He then figured out how to balance himself on it entirely on his own. … Sometimes, great teaching happens when we simply provide the resources and challenges and get out of the way.

Eleanor Duckworth: Getting people to think about what they think, and asking them questions about it, is the best way I know how to teach.

How do you know that you’re having an impact?

Jose Vilson: The kids tell me, whether I want to hear it at the time or not.

Moore: I’ve taught my entire career in the rural Mississippi Delta, in small schools in small towns. As we used to say at Bread Loaf [the writing school of Middlebury College in Vermont, where Moore earned a master’s degree in literature], I “inhabit the consequences” of my work. After 25 years, I’m surrounded by my former students, their families, and I’m now working with some of their children. I’ve had so many come or write back to tell me the impact I had on their lives. Among my most precious things are letters, handmade plaques and signs, and other gifts from grateful students. One wrote me from jail just to say, “Mrs. Moore, it’s not your fault … ”

What kind of training and experience makes a great teacher?

Bain: I know I’m going to get pushback on this, but I think one of the major problems we face in cultivating great teachers is that we don’t pay enough attention, especially in K-12, to the learning of the teacher. We should help them develop the dynamic powers of their minds and should continue to do so throughout their lives.

Second, we should help them develop an understanding of some of the major ideas coming out of the research and theoretical literature on what it means to learn, how the human mind works, and all of the personal and social forces that can influence learning. This is a dynamic field with lots of important research and ideas emerging almost constantly, and the training and experience of a great teacher has to include the opportunity to explore, understand and apply the ideas and information that is emerging.

Finally, great teaching includes the ability to give good feedback and to make assessments.

Vilson: It really depends on the environment around the teacher. … With more experienced staff, it’s important to get beyond the humdrum PDs [professional development opportunities] and get into something truly transformative, which is hard to find. That’s why so many of us have to seek out PD opportunities both on and offline on our own time, past the meetings and opportunities provided by our school.

Moore: There is so much in teaching that would be best learned through apprenticeship, rather than the current system of leaving most new teachers to trial-and-error their way through. The teachers who become great or master teachers seek out the help and PD they need, as Jose mentions, but I agree with the work of Deborah Ball and others that we know enough about teaching that we can, and should, be much more systematic in sharing that collective wisdom with our newest members.

Also, Ken is correct about the importance of being able to assess student learning and give timely, appropriate feedback. The current overemphasis on test preparation and other misuses of standardized testing have taken much of this critical professional skill out of the classroom and away from teachers.

How has the definition of great teaching changed over time? How do you expect it to change in the future?

Vilson: The definition hasn’t changed much over time, but the stereotype of it certainly has. The idea of raising test scores, being young and bringing a new set of ideas is different from the elder statesmen and women that comprised most of my ideas of great teaching growing up. Great teaching seems to reflect whatever the mode of education reform we’re in at the time.

Bain: I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree here. I think there has been an enormous change in the way we define great teaching. In the old days, we often defined it in terms of performance on the part of the teacher. I’m afraid those old definitions still persist in the minds of some people. We had certain notions about great performances in the classroom, and we looked for those performances. In the emerging definition of great teaching that I’ve been suggesting here, some of us are now thinking of it in terms of learning and the facilitation of learning.

Moore: And I disagree with Ken. Great teachers (and the students and parents they serve) have always defined great teaching in terms of the long-term effects on their students. … Your response suggests that the impetus for deeper learning on the part of teachers has come from the top (e.g., higher ed researchers) down to classroom teachers, when in fact, the greatest movement has been among teachers ourselves.

Bain: I’m really not suggesting a top-down model at all. I’m just recognizing that the research on human learning over the last half-century in particular has had an enormous influence on how we define teaching and how we understand what it takes to cultivate someone else’s learning. Some important aspects of that research have been done by classroom teachers on all levels, so I’m not seeing much room for a “Us” and “Them” or top-to-bottom way of understanding this.

Who should not be a teacher?

Moore: Anyone who cannot listen or learn from others, including his or her students.

Vilson: Anyone who can’t take critique and isn’t willing to center their visions on the students.

Troy Cockrum: Someone who is not passionate for why they are in education. Students are not widgets. You can go to a job every day producing or designing widgets and do a good job at it even if you aren’t passionate for what you do. Students deserve more. Students should be treated and respected as individuals, and only a passionate educator can do that.

Who, in your life, has embodied great teaching?

Duckworth: I danced ballet for six years, but I quit when I was 15 because I thought it wasn’t a serious way to spend one’s life. I was a very serious young woman. When I was 58, I finally got the courage to try again. Margie Gillis [a modern dancer and choreographer] was a great teacher of mine.

My first workshop with her was a weeklong class that had people ranging in age from 16 to 72 and in experience from total beginner to New York professionals. There were 35 people in the class, and it was a peak experience for everybody. She gave us exercises — such as, cross the floor as delicately as you possibly can — which we all did at whatever level we could, and we did them side by side. It was really extraordinary teaching.

Moore: I’ve been blessed to have had several great teachers in my life, starting with my father, who first taught me to love learning itself. Among my schoolteachers, the great ones included: Mrs. Bailey, a tall, elegant black woman who was the principal of our elementary school. She was one of the first educators I encountered who genuinely believed every child could learn, and would inspire us to attempt things we thought impossible. Another was Dixie Goswami, the director of the writing program at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English, where I earned my M.A. Dixie not only taught us how to write, but also the tremendous transformative power of literacy for us and our students. Well into her 80s and still teaching, Dixie continues to inspire me (and push me) to make a difference, not just a living.

Vilson: If we just focus on my time as a teacher, the best ones I know include Mrs. Ruff, a sixth-grade teacher whose classroom management was based on civil rights and empowerment. [Vilson also named Moore and suggested her for this round table].

How important is it to share some of the background and experience of your students?

Moore: Having some common experiences or understanding of my students’ backgrounds was always helpful to me in my work with high school students because I taught in 100 percent African-American schools. The black students needed to see that it is possible to master the use of standard English without turning into a white person. But when I began teaching at the college level, I realized it was also important for the white students to have a highly accomplished African-American English teacher, because so many of them needed that model to counteract what they had been taught and told all their segregated lives.

What in your personal experience or biography helped make you a better teacher?

Cockrum: I come from a media production background. While that express experience may not have made me a better teacher, the need in the field to be innovative, creative and technologically advanced has given me the needed skills to bring those to education.

Vilson: Everything, but especially growing up in a poor neighborhood and gaining access to private education, because I brought some of the ethos and expectation from my upbringing to my classroom.

Moore: I agree with the others on this, and have often said that teaching is the consummate profession. A highly accomplished teacher draws on everything s/he knows and has ever done to do the creative, dynamic work that is teaching. Among the experiences that helped me most were my background as a freelance journalist, and as a parent (I’ve raised 11 children — was a 30-year-old mother of four when I started teaching).

Duckworth: I was Piaget’s student in Geneva. From Piaget I got the theoretical view that no one can know exactly what meaning somebody else has made. Words can express it to some extent, but you can’t assume anybody is making the same meaning as you are, and everybody has their own path.

The other thing I got from them was the way of talking to kids. I learned from [Piaget’s research partner Barbel] Inhelder about getting kids interested in what you want to talk about, and not giving them any hints.

How do you improve on the job?

Cockrum: I attend four or five conferences a year, sometimes more. Presenting at conferences also provides me the opportunity to reflect on my own practice. I’m connected online through Twitter and other social media, to keep myself connected to my PLN [personal learning network]. I make sure to balance my face-to-face professional development with my online professional development. I model for my students the act of being a constant learner.

What’s the most important lesson you learned when you were just starting out?

Vilson: Stop taking things so personally, Jose. And if you break down emotionally one day, rest up the rest of the afternoon, go to sleep early, and get into school early the next day. Don’t take the day off unless you’re absolutely sick or something important is happening.

Cockrum: I had a student come to me during her break period very upset. She vented about a problem she was having and really struggling with. I kept trying to interject advice to help her solve the problem. Finally, she said, “Mr. Cockrum, I don’t want advice, I just want someone to listen.” I regularly remind myself: Students just need someone to listen. While advice can be helpful, the most beneficial thing I can provide in most situations is just to listen.

Bain: I’d just say that we have to learn constantly, about our students, their learning, our subjects, their society and lives, and so forth, and we just have to take advantage of all the opportunities we have to learn. All of the things that my colleagues have mentioned are important, but I’d emphasize three: Read, listen and talk. Read everything you can about learning and about your subject. Engage in conversations with other people who are also exploring the questions, ideas and information.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would share with an aspiring teacher?

Duckworth: One of the important qualities is to be able to listen well. And a teacher needs to believe in their students.

Moore: Network, network, network. Connect yourself to great teachers, and stay connected. I’ve been a networked teacher from the start of my career. In recent years there has been an exponential growth in the number and quality of teacher networks. Most of these are grass-roots, vibrant and vital. Some great examples include: Center for Teaching Quality’s Collaboratory, English Companion Ning, Classroom 2.0, K12Online Conference, and hundreds of teacher-initiated and -maintained Twitter chats (#engchat, #sschat, [social studies], #scichat, #tlpchat [teach like a pirate] …). Find the regularly updated list HERE.