Liberal Arts Instructor
The Art Institute of Portland
Read broadly. Read deeply. Read for truth. Jane Langley , Liberal Arts Instructor , The Art Institute of Portland
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
In third grade, we were asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. I chose “teacher,” and I’ve never wavered from pouring my creative spirit into that endeavor.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
My professional background is working with words. In the classroom, I use my training as a rhetorician and lawyer to pass along respect for those tools, both spoken and written. Using contextual analysis, students become stronger readers and writers who carefully dissect others’ texts for meaning or create meaningful texts to accomplish their own meanings. Wielding words with efficiency is a lifelong skill than can help you succeed in any profession.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring, and how do you inspire students to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
I encourage students to mingle their perspectives with others’ and create a fresh understanding from that interaction. One way I do that is by providing an advance list of potential final exam questions. Students have weeks to either work alone or collaborate with classmates on each question. The exam is made up of questions from that list. Students can’t bring notes to the exam, so they must honestly learn the concepts that the questions provoke. The idea is to foster a solid understanding of the material rather than just have them cram for an exam.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Collaboration is a valuable skill in the real-world workplace, and a way to broaden self- awareness. Students from across the school are required to take my composition courses; they bring a wide range of interests to class discussion. They work in groups to evaluate and advise one another on their draft essays, and to deconstruct text of assigned published essays.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
Be a discerning reader. Interact with the writer—inquire, agree, disagree, measure your own theories against those the writer is sharing. Read broadly. Read deeply. Read for truth. Don’t accept any idea just because it’s in print. Form your own opinions—that’s the essence of creativity.