I remember chaperoning my daughter’s middle school field trip to the M.C. Escher exhibit at a local art museum. I was duly impressed by the collection. The sheer volume of work was remarkable, and his reality-bending prints were a delight to puzzle out. However, what really stayed with me was a small, hand-written insignia on many of the prints that read, “Eigin Druk.”
This tiny note from Escher loosely translates to “printed by my own hand.” Unlike many of his contemporaries, Escher often printed his own work. Skilled apprentices or master printers took years to perfect the process of transforming drawings into prints. But Escher rarely took advantage of this expertise. Instead, he opted to oversee his work through the entire process. The phrase “Eigin Druk” affirms his personal pride in mastering the lithography and woodblock techniques.
A Master of Craft
Reflecting on Escher’s accomplishment caused me to consider everything we teachers have overcome this year. I’m sure decades from now, people will publish books and create award-winning films detailing every horrible moment of 2020. But as bad as this year has been, I feel we educators can take great pride in the new tools and techniques we’ve since mastered. In a matter of months, we had to change our lessons, adjust to distance learning, and navigate a litany of virtual programs. Many of us are still learning, but we haven’t let COVID-19 knock us down.
It’s moments like these which should make us proud to call ourselves teachers. Like Escher, we’ve remained committed to our students and our craft, even when things got difficult. We’ve learned how to empower our students from a distance. We’re teaching with purpose and passion, and helping parents do the same. Most of all, we’re showing our students how to keep their curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking alive!
With a Flourish
So, this week, I would encourage you to affix your own “Eigin Druk” to your work. It doesn’t have to be anything huge. You could order yourself a custom coffee mug or a fun T-Shirt. You could take a screenshot of your class and set it as your desktop background. Just do something that reminds you of how far you’ve come, and how much you’ve achieved in such a short time.
As an educator, you are a master craftsman. Your medium is far more organic and fickler than wood or stone. You work with childhood imaginations, teenage dreams, and human curiosity. These are your tools. Craft them smartly, display them proudly.