Wanted: Academic Mantras

I am currently on research leave taking the Tactile Academia approach to the United States. At the moment I am artist-in-residence at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA), where I am team-teaching some classes, and also am doing some professional development for staff. (And I will blog about more details when I have the time, though realistically it might take me until February, when I am back in the UK for a bit.)

Today’s session with staff was built around the idea of the Mantra Card, which Melanie Mowinski, a colleague from MCLA ,often does in the letterpress studio that is part of a teaching and community project she leads. (She even put together a 2014 calendar with monthly mantras, check it out here.)

Melanie recently put together a workshop making academic mantra cards for the Design Principles and Practices conference in Vancouver in January, which I had agreed to help facilitate, although that didn’t actually work out as my own workshop on the Fishscale was scheduled at the same time. As it had been very successful we decided to do this with the folks at MCLA.

image

Academic Mantra cards produced at MCLA faculty workshop

In a nutshell an academic mantra is a short saying that you a) say to yourself all the time, b) tell your students all the time, c) is the advice you would give to other academics or d) is an inspirational quote you want to be reminded of. In the workshops we work with packing tape transfers (a really nifty and easy way of getting images from a photocopy to your own card) and hand lettering, and people get the opportunity to play around with stock images and the layout.

And as it was so much fun, we decided that developing this idea further might be a good project for me to fulfill the idea of an artist residency, which comes with an exhibition at the end (while I am only in Massachusetts until the end of January, I will be returning in May to catch up with staff and students, and for said exhibition, of course).

So while I/we will typeset the academic mantras we made this evening, we thought it would also be an idea to collect some more, which we will either make into letterpressed/printed cards or just display around the gallery. They will, of course, be referenced to whoever submits them, if appropriate.

So please, send me your academic mantras, by either commenting on this post or tweeting them #AcademicMantras to me (@alkegw).

Here are some we already have (I will update this list with the new suggestions as they come in):

  • No matter how obvious you think something is, to students it is probably anything but.
  • If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?
  • The creative act is not performed by the artist alone (Marcel Duchamp)
  • Try being a student yourself at least once every two years.
  • Deciding how you write is like dressing for the occasion.
  • I can’t answer that for you. Only you can answer that.
  • Good craft like good grammar should be invisible.
  • Always, always, always read your work aloud.
  • Proof read, proof read, proof read!
  • Take time to admire your work.
  • Practice takes practice.
  • Show! Don’t Tell! (submitted by Darren Raven)
  • Show me the evidence!
  • Remember to breath.
  • There’s always a way.
  • I don’t know, try it.
  • Consider craft.
  • YOU can do it.
  • Believe.
  • You can’t create and analyse at the same time.
  • Write now, edit later.
  • Sometimes it is better to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
  • There is a vitality a life force an energy a quickening that is translated through you into action (submitted by Lisa Donovan)
  • Translate – uebersetzen (submitted by Lisa Donovan)
  • We don’t see what we don’t know the names of (submitted by Ben Jacques)
  • the slower you travel, the further you go (submitted by Ben Jacques)
  • Here are two things: (submitted by Michael Dilthey)
  • Legitimate Needs – Deepest Desires – Unique Talents  –  Faith (submitted by Michael Dilthey)
  • Fortune favours the brave (submitted by Susan Ryland)
  • Just do it! (submitted by Sue Challis)
  • Do things for the goodness of your artistic soul (Alex Pacheco)
  • If you have a dream, it might hide a treasure (Luis Mundo)
  • This point needs unpicking further (submitted by Katy Vigurs)
  • Quotations don’t speak for themselves, tell reader what’s significant & why relevant (submitted by Katy Vigurs)
  • Don’t assume a sweeping generalisation is shared by anyone except yourself… (submitted by Louise H Jackson)
  • Once you accept referencing as part of the research process, and make it systematic, it becomes much easier (submitted by Louise H Jackson)
  • Researching Learning & Teaching is Research with a big R, whatever your specialism (submitted by Louise H Jackson)
  • Process work doesn’t get you extra credit. And it shouldn’t.
  • As wonderful as it might be, you’re not here to do what somebody else has already done (Louise H Jackson, as reminded by @RichStubbs89)
  • Learn about the apostrophe or avoid using it (Russel Spink)
  • Writing is the placeholder of thinking (Caroline Cash)
  • Ask Forgiveness, now Permission (submitted by Clare Aitken aka @LibClare)
  • make friends with the gatekeepers
  • Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. (Chuck Close)
  • The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you. (B.B. King)
  • Stop waiting for inspiration (and just write!) (submitted by Meagan Kittle-Autry aka @makautry)
  • Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself. (Chinese proverb)
  • Words are loaded pistols. (Jean-Paul Sartre)
  • The best artworks create artists. (James Wallbank)
  • Simplicity is just infinite complexity presented well. (Tim Klapdor aka @timklapdor)
  • Diagrams and quotations do not speak for themselves! (Katy Vigurs)
  • You don’t teach a subject, you teach people!
  • You have failed only when you fail to try
  • Problems: a word often used for opportunities to invent creative solutions or learn more. (Deborah Chandler)
  • Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with the box. (Twyla Tharp)
  • Art can’t be taught, it can only be practised and developed. (Anita, TiPP)
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. (Isaac Asimov)
  • If we mistake ‘unthinkable’ with ‘impossible’ we reduce our options. Just thinking beyond the possible is miraculous. (@metadesigners)
  • Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence. (Robert Frost)
  • Patience is also a form of action (Auguste Rodin)
  • Work begins when the fear of doing nothing at all finally trumps the terror of doing it badly. (Alain de Botton)
  • Everything stinks till it’s finished (Dr Seuss)
  • Know the rules so you can break them effectively (Dalai Lama XIV)

You can’t waste time, you can only use it.
Be fascinated by it more than you are frustrated by it.
When ego is lost, limit is lost.
Don’t judge a book by its cover. (Submitted by Jennie Malbon)
Time is inner space. Space is outer time. (Novalis)
There are no facts, only interpretations (Nietzsche)
Your mind is not a vase to be filled, but a fire to be lit. (Rabelais)
You may choose to live in a dream, face reality, or turn one into the other. (Erasmus)
Any straight line is an arc in an infinite circle. (De Cusa)
If you want to truly understand something, try to change it. (Kurt Lewin)
You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ( Maya Angelou)
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. (Erich Fromm)

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11 comments
  1. Susan Ryland said:

    I remind students that creativity requires risk taking. So when I get a new idea, but feel unsure about trying it out, I tell myself that ‘Fortune favours the brave’.

    • alkegw said:

      Excellent one. Thanks for submitting it, Susan!

  2. Have a wonderful residency ! I hope you will share it here too! I’m afraid my academic mantra (writing up the PhD) has been hijacked by a well-known sports shoe brand…..”Just do it!” (although I usually say it to myself as ‘Just b……y do it”)
    Sue

    • alkegw said:

      Hi Sue, great suggestion, either way you say it…
      Yes, am hoping to share some experiences on the blog once I have the time. Good luck with the writing up!

  3. “Writing is the placeholder of thinking”
    Great project – I look forward to seeing the compendium!

    • alkegw said:

      Hi Caroline, thanks for stopping by and submitting one – and such a good one, too!

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