Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blogging in Bed

Oh, this is the ultimate in luxury, blogging in bed. The mornings are chilly and I have the warmth of my laptop and a nice cup of hot coffee and the whole bed to myself. Dave went to a campout with the motorcycle friends he has. What is it with men and camping out? Apparently, they don’t value their plumbing as much as we women do. Or don’t need it as often.

Thanks for all your helpful hints on my knitting dilemma, but I am over it now and back in the saddle with quilting. I dreamt about quilting all night and that woke me up because the brain was too busy. And when I woke up I knit some and sorted out my quilting ideas. Actually I am thinking about what new classes I will teach. So if you are in a problem solving frame of mind, I will hand over this new puzzle.

Should a teacher (namely me) teach what she wants the student to know, or should she ask the student what she wants to be taught?

 

Here’s the scenario… sometimes I am in a situation where the program chairperson who hires me wants to give the guild a stretch or a zing or a nudge in a new direction. She thinks I am just the person to give the members this shot of zingyness. Very nice for the ego, but a lot of pressure when the rubber hits the road. Sometimes it is just not a good idea.

 

What I mean is, if I am in a class teaching something very arty and see that the students are, um, not happy, I wish I could have been teaching them something a bit more like what they really would have enjoyed doing and then they would be happier and have a better time. Or vice versa.

 

What I have discovered is that two completely different quilting types find their way to my classes.

1.      the person who has seen my quilts at quilt shows or magazines and thinks they look easy and fun

  1. the person who has seen my quilts at art quilt shows and in books like Quilt National and Visions and thinks that my work is challenging and that I may be helpful in directing her to an artier place in her own work.

 

Mind you I teach both kinds of classes. I enjoy both kinds of students. What is not good is having both students in the same class. One is bound to be disappointed, and I as a teacher am bound to be frustrated. Of course I want to reach both students and keep on task in the class and have heart to heart discussions and do it all instantly. Not gonna happen.

 

So I am trying to figure out a class that meets both needs, but not sure if it can even be done.

 

And what’s funny is that here I am talking to you on the Art Quilter’s Ring and we here are all considering ourselves to be art quilters, or people of like minds, and therefore biased in a way that means we slant towards artier stuff already. So I can tell that the answers I may read from you will assuage me in the way I like…but you realize also that we are a minority in the quilt world. If I only teach art quilters, I will only work two or three times a year…

 

14 comments:

  1. Melody, you are thinking too much. Don't compromise yourself. You have a talent and a gift. Your gift is your ability to teach your talent and share it with enthusiasm. (Trust me, as a teacher of 5th graders, they don't always look happy and it isn't always for the reasons I think.)
    You cannot make all of the people happy all of the time. But your enthusiasm and knowledge come across so well those that really want to learn will pick it up and go home as excited as I was when I left your house. The problem you are trying to solve has more to do with individual personalities than it has to do with their interest level. I see it in the regular classroom every day. You keep doing what you're doing and sharing the beautiful examples of your art. Every good teacher goes through this... you reach some, some don't get it the first time through, and others never do. It doesn't mean you have failed. I'm still waiting for you to have a class closer to me. I think you are a FABULOUS teacher and artist!!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Weave the 2 descriptions of students into 2 different classes. And then reiterate (is that spelled right?) verbally in your upbeat style at the beginning of class. Also in your evaluations ask the students if they where annoyed by being challenged or by doing something that was expected...word it better than that though.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree with Cindra. Thinking too much. People who take a class with you have been captivated by what you do(see, me)If I took a class it would be to learn technique and application of same.Hense the pruchase of workshop in a bag.If there are people who you feel don't get the best from a class, that is most likely because they realize it's probably not something for them in the long run. They may be more inclined to stick with traditional quilting. You can only provide your personal knowledge and expertise and then it's up to them. Your gift is unique and beautiful and at heart you're an artist. It is impossible to please everyone and maybe all they wanted was a change from the norm. I am an artist and when I found your site you ignited that feeling that I could combine art and fiber into something new and vivid. My quilting friends are excited for me because they know I become quickly bored with the traditional quilts and this is where I have longed to be without realising it before. What a gift you are to all of us. Rock on, honey.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hhhmmm....I, OTOH, don't think you're thinking too much. But I also don't have a good suggestion of what to do about it.

    Because yes, if you have half a class who are there because they think "oh, fusing - fast, easy project, day of fun with the girls, trala trala" and the other half of the class there because they think "no pattern, different way of working, way to challenge myself to think in new directions", then if you put real effort into meeting the expectations of both groups, you're essentially teaching two classes while getting paid to teach one. Bleah.

    I think if you were hired by a guild program director for a "get these people out of their box" class and then the whole class is obviously there for a day of fun and are feeling quite cozy in their box, with no desire to leave it, I'd be inclined to say go with the group and teach to the fun-easy side of things...make them happy and maybe in a few years some of them WILL want to try something new and they'll remember you as a good teacher.

    But if you were hired for the more arty class, and it was described as such, and there are even a couple of students there who want that challenge, then I think you have to go with that direction even if it means some of the day trippers (heh) will be less than happy.

    My opinion, FWIW...probably not all that helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I teach two classes regularly for 30 weeks of the year. The classes are generic and I get all sorts from total beginners who've never picked up a needle or used a machine to those who've been there, done that, and now we want to learn how to be artfully inspired! So I offer three options in the same class. One is purely for the beginners where they will learn all the basics. Then the other two are for the more advanced and one of those projects will make the student actually participate with her/his own input into the design process. Since teaching C & G I don't find it a problem to wear three hats in class and it is actually inspiring for all the students to see what is going on. This way they come back year after year improving all the time. As to getting paid. Well I'm paid for the time regardless of what I teach. If you enjoy teaching and it sounds as if you do then go with the flow and break the class up into groups. You'll find that they will dovetail and you'll have lots of fun. Just my twopennyworth!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Shawna from Yellowknife1:08 PM

    Yes I can see the struggle you have. But after you leave the community you would be surprised on how pleased some of those students who didn't seem to have very much fun during the course are with their piece.

    So keep teaching the classes, don't fuss about who is stressed. Yes those students may have seemed to misunderstand your course write up and come with different expectations. They may even seem not to enjoy the "stretch". But you would be pleased how many of them are proud of their pieces...not all the students but enough of them.

    I know that we have had instructors here in Yellowknife and encouraged a couple of our small group to take the class, worked through their tears and rants and then when they see the finished piece that THEY produced the glow in their faces makes all the stress worth it. It is in the long run a confidence booster.

    I know that Caryl B-F came to Yellowknife and it was amazing to see how many people wanted to created a Caryl quilt. They were all disappointed on that level because they didn't have her fabric. It was very interesting.

    Keep doing what you are doing. Maybe offer patterns for the ones who want to produce an "Melody Johnson" looking quilt...of course they will want your fabric with it. Then encourage everyone else to do up their own design. The rest will get a different level of understanding and appriecation for the art process.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Melody, I took a class from Hollis and the way she did it was she taught us all the basics. Some of us had never painted before so we were happy with our leaves and flowers. She even had patterns for us to copy if we didn't have a pattern. For the more "advanced" people in her class she offered a demo on how to paint faces half way through the class. We were allowed to watch if we wanted. I thought this was a good way to satisify the different levels of artists in our class. Hope this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here's my thought about this: write very careful course descriptions, so that the people who hire you know what they're getting. And then I would teach what you've been asked to teach. I agree with what someone said above: how someone looks during the class might not be the best way to determine whether someone is getting a lot out of the class. I know people who look positively miserable during workshops, and then say they love being challenged. Maybe you need to have faith that 1) the person hiring you knows the group well enough to know what will fly; 2) the people who sign up will come because they want to learn what you have said you're going to teach; and 3) even if they don't act all happy or relaxed about the process, they're taking away more than you realize.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Debbie12:53 PM

    Having just taken your class I wondered about this same thing. I am of the more arty group (but dont think your quilts are easy), but I could see how challenged some of the more traditional quilters were. I think that people signed up for your class signed up because they wanted to learn what you have to teach, and your way of working exposes all of us to something new. I think that everyone learned something new (whether or not they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Actually, I thought everyone had a good time). I guess I am saying that I agree with Diane!

    ReplyDelete
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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com