Friday, 30 April 2010

Being a 'mature' student

At the recent artists bookfair I met a very nice lady called Heather Hunt whose books were very interesting. She had been a bookbinder but went back to university in 1993 as a mature student, and we got talking about that experience. Specifically we talked about how difficult it is to move beyond the limitations and rules you have acquired over the years. And it is.

I don't mean being 'stuck in your ways', but that the experience and knowledge you have just because you're older means that when you have an idea, you think 'oh, I can't do that , it's been done before'. You know it's been done before because you're old enough to have seen it, read it, done it or generally just know about it! The younger students (and in some cases really quite young!) don't know, so they go off and do it anyway.

And of course, they do it with a different angle on it; because they don't know it's been done before, they don't know how it's been done before so they do it their way. With me so far? Sometimes being older and more knowledgeable (you'll notice I didn't say wiser) can box you in with limitations. Sometimes they are conscious, sometimes they are unconscious.

Heather and I also agreed that sometimes you unconsciously follow the rules too much. Unconsciously is probably the wrong word, you know you're doing it, it's more like a habit, you just do! It means that younger students can sometimes be freer with the work that they do - they have less 'baggage'. It doesn't mean that you have to stay like that, it just means that you have to firstly be aware if you are doing it, and secondly, work a bit harder to break away from it.

Heather also made me laugh when she said that as a mature student, every time someone mentions a book, you rush out and buy it thinking you ought to read everything! I have a hotline to Amazon! :D

Heather Hunt, Observer Book Series 2004


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