I have been teaching across various ‘classrooms’ since the late 1980s when I worked as an educator around rape crisis and domestic violence in Philadelphia’s prisons, homeless shelters, juvenile residences and community health centers.
In the mid-1990s I organized other educators around media activism in San Francisco, where I launched panels on pirate radio and ‘zine culture for Media Alliance. From 1998-2000, I steered volunteer community radio producers at KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, CA, several of whom were part of a cohort of women radio-makers in their ’70s.
Working directly with university students began with organizing internships for Outright Radio, the PRI-distributed radio series around LGBTQ themes. I also taught summer intensives at The University of Arizona (Tucson, 2003-2004) in Pro Tools production for BFA film students.
I’m always asking questions and pointing towards self-inquiry as a way to broaden and learn as is evident in my teaching strategies since being invited in 2004 to launch my first radio-centric course through The New School for Public Engagement’s MA in Media Studies and the BA Liberal Arts programs (online campus for students both on-campus in Manhattan and distributed internationally). I have since developed 10 distinct online courses. I currently teach four of those annually at The New School, in either full-semester or summer sessions, including seminars and studio/production courses for enrolled masters’ students as well as those completing undergraduate degrees. I also enjoy guiding masters’ students and undergrads in their independent and thesis projects and analyzing prior learning so students can gain school credit from real work experience.
One element I strive to integrate in every online class I teach is a real-world learning experience. Beginning in the 2016 Sound Culture graduate seminar, devoted to the phenomenology of listening and sound artistry as well as the curatorial process, I developed a multi-part assignment around the jurying of curatorial proposals to apexart in Lower Manhattan. The objective is to help students learn to conceptualize and articulate their own similar final projects.
Another successful approach is in the graduate production course Radio Experiments, where I invite students to consider a semester-long attention to the same story material in order to benefit their media practice. They use the same interviews (subject and scope is their choosing) to ‘hear’ how it sounds across distinct genres (radio documentary; impressionist narrative; artistry/fiction). In this way, students get to experiment and focus and determine the best format for a story.
My ears always get a work-out and I learn many things from my students. The discipline of listening to them, to their approach to sound-making, enlivens my own teaching.