Teaching Philosophy

Sally McKay

People learn best when they take ownership over their education.

Student-directed learning is the core value in my teaching practice.

Since long before I came to academia, I have been delivering guest-lectures, talks and workshops in a wide range of contexts. I continue to teach both inside and outside the classroom. Recently, for example, I facilitated a lively and successful day-long workshop for docents at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia, in which we explored various strategies for engaging viewers in the gallery.

During my full-time work at McMaster University I taught a diversity of courses in both Studio Art and Art History, combining practice, theory and research. All the courses I taught are listed in my academic cv (link below). In particular, I designed two high enrolment courses in art and visual culture for non-art majors, bringing students from diverse programs across the university. The continued success of these courses is due, in part, to a careful structuring of lectures and assignments that encourage students to value their own life experiences in relation to art practice and analysis. Course materials covered art-related topics such as gender, race, colonialism and online discourse, all of which form a context for hands-on practice in drawing and digital art. These courses were extremely rewarding, and had clear impact for students.

Art making, research and analysis offer unique and embodied modes of learning, providing skills in grounded attention and culturally contextualized self-awareness that are increasingly needed in contemporary society. I would like to get rid of the negative associations attached to the notion of "service teaching." I prefer to think of this practice as "teaching across disciplines."