Role reversal: Teacher Edwin Smith is now on study leave taking a Fine Arts doctoral. *Photo  supplied
Role reversal: Teacher Edwin Smith is now on study leave taking a Fine Arts doctoral. *Photo supplied
Teacher Edwin Smith is now sitting on the other side of the desk as he samples student life.

And he is quick to point out it's not easy being a student as "work never ends" and "going out once a month has become a major treat."

Mr. Smith, a senior lecturer in art and design and a much-admired artist, has swapped Bermuda College for the bustling Texas Tech

University.

He is on study leave as he takes a Fine Arts Doctoral Programme at the university's College of Visual and Performing Arts.

He's on campus from at least 9am to 6pm and his research and preparation times "go extremely late into the night."

Instead of about 600 students at Bermuda College, Mr. Smith now has to contend with the university's 30,000 students. He says the sheer size of the university makes him feel like he is "in a small world inside a larger world."

Returning to student life is "not as scary as imagined" but he is still trying to find his way around the huge university even though he started in September.

He said: "I did not know what to expect, I intentionally formed no expectations other than to go and do well.

"I love new places and new ways of doing things. I am enjoying my interaction with my professors and fellow classmates and life here on the high plains.

"The amount of required reading, research and preparation for presentations is a full-time load and is very exhausting - but a happy and fulfilling exhaustion!

"I am glad to say that I have done well this semester and I am looking forward to the next. God is good to me!"

Juggling skills

As a graduate student Mr. Smith is expected to "juggle" some teaching into his weekly schedule and he is currently assisting with an Art Appreciation course.

So even though he is technically "a teacher who is on leave" he is now considered a "student who teaches."

He explained: "Teaching is an expectation of graduate students and it assists in preparing students for teaching roles although there are a few like myself who have already taught for many years.

"Juggling both (learning and teaching) is not easy but you do what you have to. I got into a routine and stuck with it."

Mr. Smith decided to pursue a doctoral degree in Fine Arts as it was "absolutely new and interesting" to him. He chose Texas as while focusing on visual arts, he is also studying music, theatre and philosophy.

Mr. Smith said: "Texas Tech has approximately 30,000 students and skyscrapers and infrastructure to support that number. There is also a drive here to increase the student enrollment by at least another 10,000.

"The campus is like a city and at peak times there is student congestion but Texas Tech is a vibrant and exciting place to be.

"I have never attended a school of this size before and it takes a while to learn your way around. In fact, there are parts of campus that I still am not familiar with."

But Mr. Smith is missing having the time to spend on his own artwork having displayed his work at galleries across Bermuda.

Limited time

He said: "My personal work since September has been limited. This is a dramatic condition for me as I am used to working on my creative ideas constantly throughout the year.

"As an artist, it is strange being involved in daily art study and not being able to personally produce.

"However, I take the approach that this is only for now and that my focused attention on art history and related issues will make me a better teacher."