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Staff stories: Inquirer student puts the spotlight on Mr Chedburn

Secondary School art teacher James Chedburn has been at ISP for more than a decade, but how well do we really know him? Grade 7 student Pascale, ISP student and writer for the student paper, the Inquirer, put the spotlight on James to find out a little more about him as an artist, teacher and DIY enthusiast.

This story was first published on the ISP student newspaper, Inquirer.

Q. What is your job here at ISP?

ISP teacher James Chedburn

I guess I have two jobs at the moment at ISP, I'm an art teacher for diploma years, so grades 11 and 12, and I am also the vice principal for organization for learning. That's a job that's really about organizing the way we do things, so it's really about organizing in a way teachers, rather than student, so it's not well being.

Q. How long have you been at ISP?

I think this will be my 12th or 13th year, I can't remember, maybe my 14th year.

Q. Where were before and what was your job?

Before, for 15 year, I worked as a professional artist in France, and before coming to France I worked at Bristol University, I was a lecturer in their education department, and before that I was an art teacher in a school in Bristol in the south west of England.

Q. Why did you move to France?

I moved to France for a very bad reason really. It was because I met my wife in England I decided to follow her to France.

Q. What do you like about being an art teacher?

I think it's a really nice subject to teach, it's interesting, It's partly interesting because you never quite know what's going to happen, I think there must be some subjects where the teacher can pretty well determine how its going to go, what the students are going to do and the students are going to produce a piece of work, where as in art you never quite know because you can start a project off and students can have ideas, especially when dealing with older students as I do, can have ideas that are completely different to the ones that I have, so the project can just go in very different direction. The other thing I like about it is that it's not really, at least with older students, it's not quite teaching in that there is a teacher standing at the front of the room talking. The teacher will sit down with individual student most of the time working individually so it's very one to one kind of relationship with the students so I think its a very nice subject to teach. It's also the most important subject. The other subjects are just rubbish, you don't need to worry about them!

Q. Why did you choose to be a teacher in the first place?

In some ways I didn't choose to be a teacher. It chose me. Originally I trained as a product designer and I was working as designer for a few years and the problem with design is you are working in an office with a very small group of people, two or three people max, often by yourself, and I quite like being and working with people so I was looking for something that would allow me to, first of all, to work with other people, so in a team. I wanted something that would have a certain amount, and I know this is a cliche, but I wanted a certain amount of free time, so holidays, because I wanted to carry on working as an artist as well, and do my own work, and then I wanted something that would use my skills, so my art skills. Being an art teacher was sort of the ideal one, rather than going and working in a bank, or a supermarket for example.

Q. What comes to your mind when you think of the students at ISP?

I find them very interesting, I think I learn as much from the students as they might learn from me, in that because they are coming from lots of different cultures in terms of art they are coming with lots of knowledge that I don't necessarily have. For example I don't know very much about Indian art so I learn from having Indian students. So, for me, I find the student population, it's not the same relationship as schools in England for example, where you have a teacher who knows things and gives that knowledge to the students, it's more sharing here. The other thing is that I find the students to be very nice people, it's very rare that we have any problems. There usually willing to have a try at things, give it a go and they're usually not too judgmental about each other in the way that can be in other places.

Q. If you weren't an artist and an art teacher what do you think you would be?

I think I always wanted to be an artist really. Funnily enough I decided at the age of seventeen that I was going to be a dentist so I started doing, in England you have to do three subjects for the equivalent of a diploma so I started doing physics, chemistry and biology. But I was really not a very good scientist, so halfway through I started doing more and more art and I ended up giving up physics and chemistry and did art, history and biology, a curious combination. But I think art was always something I wanted to do. It was how I spent my free time. I was always painting and drawing, so in a way there was never much choice really. I had decided I was going to be a designer but that's because I thought i would be able to make a living more easily form it.

Moving off the topic of ISP and teaching I have a few more personal questions just about you as a person:

Q. What is your favorite book?

My favorite ever book, I've got different ones. One of them is Lucky Jim by Kingsley Anise, I read first when I was seventeen and then read lots of times. I read all sorts of book in different styles and different ways, but that was the first one that got me interested in being an artist.

Q. What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is an old one Casablanca, I've seen that some many times, another one is called Local Hero, which is about American in Scotland, and it's very good and very funny.

Q. Who is your favorite artist?

Again I have lots, I think Egon Shilet is one of my favorites in terms of drawing, there's also a Belgian artist called Panomoranco who's mad and I really like him, and there a Swiss artist called Tingly who makes machines and Alexander Calder who was an American artist and did things in wire.

Q. One surprising thing about yourself?

The way I relax, my passion is building, wall especially, and plumbing and electricity. So that's how I spend my holidays.


Find out more about the staff at ISP. Do you know who the PYP guru at the Primary School is?

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