My break time from “real work”, like accounting, cooking, washing, etc. usually comes at the computer giving me a chance to read the numerous daily newsletters/blogs I receive from various bead magazine publishers. While I don’t always read all of them, I was intrigued today by Kristal Wick’s article (letter) in today’s Beading Daily Blog (http://www.beadingdaily.com/)? She wrote about being on an airplane with a seed bead artist who handed her a needle and offered her a choice of beads. I was first intrigued due to a picture of someone sitting in an airplane with a bunch of seed beads in front of her. I wonder how many seed beads I left on the floors of airplanes during the ten years I traveled around training teachers of the gifted.
While many of my bead buds are not seed beaders, the point of her blog seemed to me to be about the advantages of one on one time with another artist. I’ve thought about that a good deal lately having had a nice friend who likes to “play” and has patiently sat with me as I try to learn to use the torch properly. Another friend has helped me learn to twist wire. There’s something in teaching that differs from teaching a lesson and teaching a person. It seems to me that in teaching a lesson, the agenda is preset by the instructor and the student has a reasonable understanding of a product goal. The student has agreed to that goal by signing up for the class or lesson. In teaching a person, however, the student is more in control and the instruction is guided by questioning and wondering. It’s much more Piagetian. (setting the learning environment for the student who then explores it) In the second case, the patient teacher watches the student to see what tips might be helpful and carefully guides the technical process.
In the quote below, Ms. Wick discusses the difference in having someone sit with you as opposed to reading about the technique in books or seeing it on a DVD:
|“Without the inspiration, expertise, and girl-time with my bud and seed-bead cheerleader, Melinda, I could not have created these bead-stitched beauties. Sure I have books and DVDs, but sometimes committing to learning is what you really need! Plus, nothing stirs that deeply simmering pot of potential creativity in you as much as a great teacher, workshop, or class.
They awake your inner artist, a self that may have been sleeping. Melinda certainly stirred my pot. She helped smooth out the bumps (literally and figuratively) in my seed beading. She brainstormed with me on what to make and how to finish it. And she helped me stay on track every other step along the way.”
I used to wonder when I was conducting workshops for adults why there was no opportunity for follow up on the lesson/learning. We would spend six hours together and then that was the end. Later there was no opportunity for questions or review following application of the learning. It was just a one time shot. That also usually happens with bead/design classes. It’s usually one workshop. The exception, of course, are those in which the student takes a short series of classes. These allow for questioning and feedback.
The advent of social networking has helped somewhat with the above predicament. The ability to ask a follow up question online to a group where some individuals have also taken the class about which you have questions can prove quite helpful. Also, the opportunity to write to the instruction is most beneficial.
So, what’s the point. Do I want to give up Teaching a Lesson in lieu of Teaching a Person? Absolutely NOT! The lesson is the beginning, but I do think there often should be follow up. A lesson could involve students and a teacher and a follow up session might solely involve a gathering of students to discuss problems and to have “show and tell”. Instructors may have moved on to other classes, but students can help one another. The old “ask one and then me”, sometimes used by classroom teachers in schools, works here with students asking one another first for help. If that fails then the teacher can be contacted.
Another advantage to follow up is that it encourages students to actually complete what they started in the class. How many people have several unfinished projects lying around because they just moved on to another class? If I know someone will was to see what I’ve completed, then I really get busy. This solidifies the learning experience and thus I remember it better. I can just imagine the dendrites in my brain getting excited and wanting to branch following some new learning and then shriveling because I let the experience go (this is, of course, somewhat of an exaggeration, but you get the picture).
I for one will work on learning something new as often as possible. I will also look for follow up opportunities either to give or to receive help with the learning process. My question remains “what new thing am I learning today” and secondly, “did I help anyone else get those dendrites moving?”