Friday, 16 December 2011
Professionalism as profound involvement with material rather than detachment
I just read the latest post on Solid Gold Creativity, entitled Possibility 3, which includes a story about a singer who, in order to achieve a great interpretation of a Schubert song, discovered - with help from a coach - that he needed to 'stop taking himself so Goddam seriously'. He needed to lose himself in the material, to give himself up to it, to submit to its demands. This language is not too strong: on the contrary, it is precise. The craftworker aims for a moment to become one with his/her material. This is exactly what I mean in my analysis of craft when I argue that the craftworker's identity is completely bound up with their work, and that consequently their work truly and uniquely reflects the person they are. We talk of a singer 'interpreting' the song, with the connotation that every interpretation is unique (for better or worse!). But even to say this plays down the active role of the material in shaping the identity of the craftworker too - every piece of work they produce changes them, makes them the person they are, becomes part of their lived experience and their identity.
In the same way, we can say that teachers are formed by their students, provided they allow themselves to be so formed, provided they don't take themselves too seriously.