Kourtnie.net

Kourtnie McKenzie-Williams. Writer. Artist. Educator.

Back to School

I’d like to go back to school to bolster my teaching opportunities. Beyond the fact I wanted to extend teaching opportunities to other departments and/or doctoral-level pursuits, I’d like to return to school to address my depression.

Depression & Intellectualization

I’ve lived with depression for more than half my life. When I’m invested in an educational goal, that depression doesn’t vanish—I’m not sure if it’ll ever go away; I think it’s a neural pattern my brain’s established as a crisis go-to, in lieu of better survival mechanisms—but that said, there’s an undeniable correlation between intense learning and lowered depression.

At least, there is an obvious correlation in my life. I wouldn’t suggest every person suffering from depression get to a college; that’d be silly.

I do sometimes wonder though if, in my case, depression in part manifests due to lack of neural stimulation in an intellectual field. In other words, intellectualizing the universe may be one of my stronger coping mechanisms for dealing with deeper issues.

This is also why it was so debilitating when, for awhile, after being threatened, I feared my family suing me for my writing; if I can’t write, I can’t reason with my emotions or memories. Writing makes me, and not writing breaks me.

Classrooms & Connections

With college also comes social connection—in a classroom environment, even if I don’t extend that interaction outside school—which would also satisfy a need currently lacking in my life. Because of my autism, social activities can be hard; but I can always interact in a learning environment.

I need to reason. I need reasoning. I need other people who are reasoning with equivalently big ideas (or big problems). I need that higher cortical function to deal with the wiring that lies beneath.

I also want to improve my diet, exercise, and sleep in spring semester so I can strengthen the other healthy habits that’ll help me crawl out of this dark place. Those are separate issues I ought write about.

So I talked about this with my husband last night, and he asked which of these educational goals I’d most like to do. I think he might’ve been gesturing at the important question, “What makes you happy?”

Pursuit of Happiness

I’m not used to this question. I’m used to the opposite approach: Don’t pursue what makes you happy; pursue what pays money, because money is necessary for you to be happy. This has gotten me into quite a thorny thicket.

And I don’t even make money!—but employment issues with autistic people is yet another post, which I’ll inevitably explore at Cleo’s Autism Awareness.

Good, Bad, & Future

So I took a look at what I currently like about my teaching career…

  • When students discuss topics in the classroom passionately (not because I tell them they have to say something for points);
  • When students improve their writing craft;
  • When students can see that they’ve improved, and they thank me for teaching them new things—that’s the brightest gold of all;
  • When I design assignments or curriculum (I love, love, love it!);
  • When, after being reviewed, the veteran teacher rates me as competent or higher (which has been every review in college, and none of the reviews in K-12).

And what I don’t like about my teaching career…

  • When friends and family say, “Why don’t you teach high school?”
  • When friends and family don’t understand how competitive full-time college positions can be (yet how debilitating K-12 can feel—so the former bullet point just reminds me of my disabilities);
  • When I have a stack of assignments to grade (reading takes time!);
  • When others suggest I don’t read everything (students appreciate when their teacher cares about them!);
  • When I feel easily replaceable, or I’m only assigned one class after I request two of them.

Lastly, what I’d like to achieve with my teaching career…

  • More understanding of how creativity affects the brain;
  • More options for teaching creative subjects (I think I might enjoy college composition courses more than other MFA-holding teachers, but I’d still like to instruct students on creativity more frequently);
  • More opportunities to help students grow as people, and not just as grade-accumulating machines (I like to see their humanity and passion more than their academic excellence);
  • Less grading (lol);
  • Less friends and family misunderstanding how deeply I’ve plunged my feet into the life of adjunct teaching;
  • Less stress and anxiety about my job.

In light of all this, the M.A. in Art (Drawing) may be the most reasonable option. I can finish it in two years—so I can feel its impact on my professional career sooner, rather than later, than the PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities—and it’ll also help me apply to the PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities, if two years from now, I’m still interested in that plan.

After finishing the M.A. in Art (Drawing), I’ll be certified to teach drawing courses at the community college level, as well as lower-division courses at universities. I’d transition from the writing arts to the visual arts.

I can see myself occupying this future.

And in those 30 units, what classes would I take?—why would I take them?

  • Art 120: Drawing (3) or Art 121: Figure Drawing (3) [2nd] (prepare for Seminar in Art Studio)
  • Art 181: 2-D Animation (3) [2nd] (prepare for Seminar in Art Studio)
  • Art 260: Seminar in Art History (3) [2nd] (writing requirement)
  • Art 290: Independent Study (1) [2nd] (research autistic artists)
  • Art 184: 2-D Animation 2 (3) [3rd] (prepare for Seminar in Art Studio)
  • Art 240: Seminar in Art Studio: Drawing (3) [3rd]
  • Art 290: Independent Study (1) [3rd] (research traditional and computer art blended techniques)
  • Art 299: Thesis (3) [3rd]
  • Art 220T: Topics in Studio Processes (3) [4th]
  • Art 240: Seminar in Art Studio: Drawing (3) [4th]
  • Art 290: Independent Study (1) [4th] (research artificial intelligence’s impact on computer art)
  • Art 299C: Thesis Continuation (3) [4th]

I’d also have remedial coursework, which would fill my first semester:

  • Art 101: Content & Form [1];
  • Art 136: Contemporary Art History [1];
  • Art 112: Gallery Techniques [1]; &
  • Art 100T: Topics in Art [1] (to fulfill my 9-unit focus in one area, along with Ancient American Art History & Asian Art History).

If I could apply to the Summer Arts program, that’d take the pressure off the Art 220T I shoved into the fourth semester. I’d prefer that route, if possible.

To apply, I need to complete a portfolio of 10 pieces. They recommend at least 4 pieces belong to a series. I was thinking I could submit 2x 4-part series, as well as 2 individual pieces:

  • The first series would be felines, including Buttercup trapped in the house; Philo in blues and greens; and two more cat drawings I need to design, one which I want to relate to Peter Matthiessen’s The Snow Leopard, a piece I studied during my MFA in Creative Writing.
  • The second series would be based on fairy tales, including Red Riding Hood, The Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, and Morgan Le Fay from Arthurian legends. I believe this will further intertwine my literary studies with my fine arts, not to mention illustrate the work I’m completing on Wattpad.
  • The standalone pieces would be from the drawing courses I’m taking at the community colleges this spring.

Which leads me to my 3x ideal schedules for spring 2019 (hopefully one of these options is possible during my late registration date!):

  • The Fresnan—Option #1—Fresno City College:
    • M/W Digital Art (9am)
    • M/W Intermediate Drawing (1pm)
    • T/Thu Ancient American Art History (12:30pm)
    • T/Thu 2-D Design (6pm)
  • The Night Owl—Option #2—Clovis College / Fresno City College:
    • M/W (C) 2-D Design (1pm)
    • M/W (C) Adobe Illustrator (6pm)
    • T/Thu (F) Ancient American Art History (12:30pm)
    • T/Thu (F) Beginning Figure Drawing (6pm)
  • The Early Bird—Option #3—Clovis College / Fresno City College:
    • M/W (F) 2-D Design (9am)
    • M/W (F) Intermediate Drawing (1pm)
    • T/Thu (C) Photoshop (9am)
    • T/Thu (F) Ancient American Art History (12:30pm)

The above schedule will help me satisfy the requirements for the Certificate in Studio Arts and the A.A. in Art History. It’ll also satisfy the 9 units of additional elective coursework in the field of art history (and it’ll satisfy the requirements for the 100-level coursework, which can be used for up to 9 units of the M.A. program).

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