This is Ian Oliver’s first semester teaching at Champlain College Dublin. He is in charge of the first installment of a new local course version discussed by blogger Ben Pitt a few weeks ago called Creative Dublin and running under ART 380: ADVANCED ART HISTORY.
When he is not teaching at Champlain, Ian runs the Centre for Creative Practices from his home in County Wicklow. He holds classes and seminars for artists, teaching them about “artistic entrepreneurship.” CFCP are getting ready to open an exhibition called New Voices of Ireland in which they accept and choose artwork submitted by local and migrant artists. The theme of the exhibition is “Beyond the Obvious.”
“It is a view of Ireland from a migrant’s perspective,” says Ian. “We want to get away from the stereotypical view of Ireland’s culture; you know, traditional music, red hair, long skirts, all that.”
The concept behind the Creative Dublin class is in a way similar to that of Ian’s exhibition; it is a view of Dublin and Irish culture from Champlain students’ perspective.
“The idea is to get away from what everyone hears about and sees, and let students choose the places they think represent their experiences in Dublin,” explains Ian. Students in the class were asked to work as a creative team to produce a tangible project identifying places they’ve found in Dublin that are “of a creative nature.”
“When Stephen [Robinson] (Program Director), Lilly [Johnsson] (Assistant Director) and I were creating the course, we were originally going to ask students to create a map,” says Ian. “But I found that to be too restrictive. I wanted them to take ownership of the project, and I know they might get more use out of a different technology. I want the outcome to be more theirs than mine, Stephen’s or Lilly’s.”
The project students came up with was an eBook highlighting small, creative places in Dublin of their choosing, such as art galleries or music venues. They also designed beverage coasters to be distributed to local cafés and pubs to advertise the eBook.
Even though he has experience teaching, Ian has had a different experience working with Champlain students than with those in his workshops and seminars. “Champlain students all seem to have similar life experiences because of their age; they are relatively like-minded,” he says. “I didn’t expect everyone to be on the same level.”
In the classroom, Ian describes himself as being “more like a CEO.”
“I try not to be too hands on. I’ll give students pointers but really I want to let people solve their own problems. I guide the discussion and introduce topics I’m used to and have experience with. Really I want to get the project, and the class of fourteen people from point A to point B.”
Ian has also been impressed with how students have done with the brand new class. “I mean here’s this course where you go from knowing nothing other than that it’s called ‘Creative Dublin,’ to identifying what you want to do and creating an outcome. So students were just kind of thrown in, and I think they’ve done remarkably well with it.”
Given the chance, Ian would love to continue teaching Creative Dublin in future semesters. “I’d like to take my learning and apply it to a new group of students, and what’s interesting is that each semester, they could come up with a completely different project.”
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Communications major
Class of 2016