lynda barry's syllabus

one of the things that i both LOVE and honestly sometimes dislike about teaching is that you are continually re-thinking how you do things in the classroom. this is great because it keeps you engaged. this is hard when you realize things you used to do that motivated students no longer work in the same way. 

a friend asked if i had seen lynda barry's book syllabus [she teaches at the wisconsin institute for discovery (don't you just love that name???)]. i hadn't and then immediately had to get it.

over break i poured over it and found it so incredibly inspirational. i remember the first time i saw one of barry's comics. i was in high school. it was in the local "alternative" newspaper. i was captivated by how different her drawings looked than what i was used to seeing. i also liked how simultaneously humble yet smartly unapologetic they were. [i couldn't have phrased it that way then, but really that's what i felt]. 

barry uses composition books. and wants her students to use/fill them too. the idea of using something less "precious" than a sketchbook is one i gravitate to. 

the book contains not only coursework, but random thoughts about teaching that SO HIT HOME. like the above page about time and rushing. 

or these thoughts about how she gets to know them. and how she wants them to be good right away. i always get giddy when i walk around a class full of students concentrating. and i can see how their work is improving that VERY DAY. they might not see it, but i do. 

or this bit about time. OH MY GOD the time question. it always irks me. how long did that take. why does it matter? 

and that making art puts you into a "meanwhile" space. this is very true. things feel like they take both a long time and no time at all. i often find that after i do something that has taken me a VERY LONG time - say days/weeks/years to pull off - that time becomes so compressed and it all fades away. or i even forget that i was part of the making of that thing that i'm looking at. it has indeed just appeared. it's surreal. 

the pages in the book are FULL. no space is left blank. i love that she takes the time to handwrite all this stuff for her students. it's so appropriate. it makes me wish i did that [but truth be told i won't]. thank you lynda barry for a very inspirational book. you can find more on lynda on her tumblr or her twitter....


Thanks for sharing this, Lisa. I think Jane would LOVE it.
Richard said…
Wow, what a treasure trove of sage advice and experience this book is! Even a nonartist like me can appreciate and enjoy it. Little wonder you love it so much.

Kinda reminds me of Richard Scarry's books for children because the pages are chock full of drawings and information. said…
Love Lynda Barry so much. Thank you for sharing this...I am reading this post while I am watching my 2-D students work and procrastinating on grading their last assignment....

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