Christina L. Dixon
The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
A closed mind never grows. Christina L. Dixon , Psychology Instructor , The Art Institute of San Antonio, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
My purpose in life is to educate people, whether formally or informally. I‘ve always had a strong desire to help others understand the importance of diversity and acceptance. As an African-American woman, I learned very early on that the world isn’t always friendly. But one experience turned it around for me. Early in my professional career, my professor asked me if I’d ever considered teaching. She’d seen my work, and worked with me at charity events. She told me, “If more people had been introduced to the world the way you see it, it might be a better place.” That’s when I decided to try my hand at teaching.
The change didn’t happen instantly though because I wasn’t swayed. It took a couple years of convincing from my faithful, persistent mother to get me to go out and actively pursue teaching. I never saw myself teaching professionally but from what my mother and my professor saw in me, it must have been meant. Here I am now, enjoying the interaction—both teaching and learning from the many students I encounter each day.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I bring the real world of psychology into the classroom...and show that it doesn’t have to be boring or hard to understand. If I can reshape how my students think and behave by teaching some of the core principles of psychology, they’ll be better prepared to adapt in an ever-changing world—and more open-minded about the people they encounter. I do this by challenging their beliefs and exposing them to fresh insights about people and cultures around the world.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
All my class assignments are focused on discovery. I ask students to research and explore both common, everyday issues and those that are monumental and life-changing. As the quarter progresses, I ask them to explore their own lives...to apply what they’ve learned in class to reshape their lives for the better. Through this process, they learn to appreciate diversity—hopefully to accept themselves despite their flaws, and create unique and personal pieces of art.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
A closed mind never grows. An open mind is more exposed to the world. Art demands that you see the world through different lenses. If you want to be successful, you must be open to seeing the world untainted, in its true form. This is how the wise get their wisdom.
Anything else you’d like to share?
You’re not coming to my class for a counseling session...but you’ll be calmed and enlightened when you leave.