Last weekend, I was invited to the annual conference of the Art Teacher's Association of Ireland (ATAI) to share my thoughts and experiences on the topic of transitioning from second level art into third level education. I had such a wonderful day, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to take part!
Because I left secondary school relatively recently (just over 2 years ago) and because I'm still in third level education (with two more years to go!), the topic of my talk was an interesting one for me to explore. Ultimately, the main conclusion that I came to was the fact that educators - both at secondary and third level - are incredibly important, and have the power to instill a lifetime passion for creativity and give their students the confidence to pursue creative careers. I discovered my passion for art in secondary school, and with the support and encouragement of my teachers, I've grown and developed in directions I may never have reached on my own. And even now, at third level, and in the real world, I'm still building on the base that I found all those years ago.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to say that I always felt comfortable in the art room, and I am overwhelmingly thankful for the teachers that I had for their creative ethos and drive to support me and the other students in my classes. Despite the challenges and limitations that the state exams in Ireland present - most notably, the sheer scale of the leaving certificate art course - my teachers always did their very best, and it was their ethos and passion that gave me the confidence, motivation, and excitement that I needed in order to pursue art at third level. At third level, too, I have been fortunate in the course that I picked. My lecturers at LSAD, Clonmel have helped me to grow even further, and build on the art forms that I discovered my passion for in secondary school. I have always worked hard on personal work outside of the courses that I have followed - largely because the time limits in those courses have unfortunately been severe - but without the influence of those educators; I wouldn't have had the ability, the motivation, or the passion that has helped me to become the ambitious, optimistic, and enthusiastic creative person that I am today.
So here's to teachers! You wonderful people deserve huge credit, and a thousand thanks