“Inspiration is for amateurs”

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up for work.” – Chuck Close

I came across this quote from the renowned painter in an article about increasing focus on art in schools. Call me a slightly-bitter/neglected social studies teacher but I always roll my eyes when I hear about a new STEM initiative. Students love the humanities and to divorce children from the arts, literature and their history is to raise little monsters that have nothing to talk about at parties, nothing to think about in lonely moments, and ultimately nothing to nourish their immortal souls. It is definitively dehumanizing.

Tirade aside, this quote got me thinking about what great teaching often looks like. It isn’t about having a really amazing lesson once a week or even a mind-blowingly-awesome lesson once in a while but good teaching is steady growth for each student over the course of a school year. It is a marathon not a sprint, as they say. Good teachers often feel uninspired and really strong lessons can look fairly pedestrian but it is not about the show. Professional teachers, like professional artists, “just show up for work.”


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