Often it's best not to think about animation. I know, I know, Dick Williams says think about all the time and do it all the time, but solutions regularly come when the mind is set to other things.
Friday, at a seminar on Liberal Arts Education in the Twenty-First Century, I figured out an animation problem (it should be a sneak, not a walk). It also gave me a lot to think about regarding animation education.
Standardized education in America focuses on survey knowledge. A lot of facts, not necessarily comprehension of their relationship to one another. Coverage.
Even in animation education, already a specialized field, a common -and successful -pedagogy is for students to become miniature production entities. In our field this may not be a net negative as long as connections to the broader scheme are enforced.
More harmful, in animation studies, the teaching of facts which imply there are "right" and "wrong" answers. Exercises from Preston Blair or Tony White provide these "correct" answers but at the expense of exploration and the intense confrontation with ideas that can lead not just to problem solving- but to a fuller understanding of the medium.
If a Liberal Arts education develops ways for students to create strategies of intellectual inquiry (or survival in a chaotic universe), a student should complete an animation education with the ability to animate, sure, but more importantly the ability to use animation as a means of solving storytelling problems.