Artist Robert Irwin with Lawrence Weschler: You have to respond to each student individually. The first thing you have to do is establish a performance level. You have to develop their confidence and prove to them in their own performance that there isn’t anything they won’t be able to accomplish technically, eventually, given a lot of application. Simultaneously, you want to be engendering a historical awareness, to help them to see that they begin in a specific time and place, in a historical context. You want them to understand that 90 percent of the things they take for granted are cultural solutions embedded in a history of such solutions: facts, but not necessarily truths. Finally, the most critical part is for them to begin developing the ability to assign their own tasks and make their own criticism in direct relation to their own needs and not in light of some abstract criteria.

“Once you learn how to make your own assignments instead of relying on someone else, then you have learned the only thing you really need to get out of school, that is, you’ve learned how to learn.” –Robert Irwin