Paul: After reading the other thoughts on the subject, let me try to clarify and be more specific. While anyone can introduce a new and valuable idea to help someone in the class. Evan's point is well taken that people move along their chosen path and make their choices along the way.
To carry the art analogy a bit further, I sometimes attend a 'life' class, where artists of all types, draw live models, a very classical, tried and true method of teaching the 'basics'. To me, basic artistic skill in draftsmanship involves accurate and sensitive rendering of the human anatomy. Light, proportion, ability to draw what you see, everything is there. That may be too high a standard to set but there you have it.
As I say, there are all types and levels of skill represented in any one of these classes but it is not at all apparent, unless you look at the work, as to who is skilled and who isn't. There is no 'black belt' apparent and you'd be shocked at some of the stick figures coming from folks who say they have studied for years. To me, the basics shouldn't be presumed by the black belt rank. Some of the best artists in these
sessions have no formal training and have learned from attending these informal 'classical' classes on their own. Yes, natural ability plays a part, etc., etc.
Now say someone introduces a new and creative way to draw. In general, how many will listen or profit from it? Let's say it is a fifty-minute warm-up in Hatha Yoga before starting the drawing. If really serious individuals are there to hone their skill in a classical form, how many will welcome the diversion? Some may and some will regard it as an intrusion or distraction. It may be a valuable lesson for everyone; say, that a warm-up period helps focus attention etc., etc. Now just say this suggestion comes from one of the stick figure folks. Fun and games right?
Now picture the same suggestion coming from one of better artists and he demonstrates specifically how it will improve your development in rendering the human anatomy (in the context of the class). Will everyone
sit up and take notice? How many will stick to changing their routine, diverting their own methods to follow this somewhat unorthodox path? Worse, the less experienced or unskilled will be confused, particularly when another person with the basics tells everyone he warms up by drawing. Many of the more skilled members will see it for what it is and decide it is not of value to spend their time. Particularly if the fifty minutes means a ten minute drawing session. It's a mixed bag. That was in part my argument at the outset. If you spend a year doing this yoga routing and there's no result, you may have wasted the time.
There is the dilemma in a nutshell. While anyone can introduce change, the central question is how the change is received.
Therefore, I would suggest that to be effective (in a masters class) there needs to be prior agreement from ALL attending students to the type of class it wants: how much time it wants to spend, who can introduce change, what level of experimentation participants are comfortable with and the degree to which it is willing to divert from the 'the basics'. Is that too democratic? There are ways to arrive at such answers but they sometimes involve honesty and openess that you must share with the others.