Saturday, May 03, 2014

The Workshops That Boggled My Mind

First workshop at the Poetry Yurt: 5 participants, quiet, lots of space and light
Second workshop at Artworks: 11 participants, espresso machine nearby, tight space
Forgive me for not writing sooner, but, truth be told, the experience of teaching threw me for a loop. In fact, it sparked an existential crisis that came as a complete surprise. I woke up the day after the second workshop and the question "How do I know who I am?" was looming in my mind. And continued to loom, for a week.

Not that I have that question resolved or anything, but I have realized that a complete change of one's self-perceived role in life every now and then is probably a good thing. I had no idea that I was so completely sheltered in my comfortable routine of working when it suited me, exploring esoteric ideas in stitch, dwelling on philosophical questions posed by needle and thread, and rambling on about such things in this blog.

Demonstrating how to do a running stitch for a complete beginner is another matter all together. Suddenly I was supposed to be an expert, which was a very unfamiliar feeling for me. (Those who know me well may scoff, given my inclination to spout the answers to all questions, all the time. The thing is, I do that just because the answers are there. I certainly don't feel like an expert, given the corollary that "The more you know, the more you know you don't know.")

Teaching requires a very different attitude, and even though I did lots of preparation, and had taught the workshop a few times before, I kept being surprised when people asked me questions like they thought I knew. Most of the time I did know, and could explain, so I'm pretty sure none of my participants guessed that inside I was panicking: "You're asking me?"

I guess that all my efforts over the years to dissolve my ego have begun to work. The experience of teaching served as a good shake to my self-image. I'm not sure where I should go from here, but I'll keep moving, remembering the Anne Patchett quote I use as a signature on my email:
"Sometimes not having any idea where we're going works out better than we could possibly have imagined."
P.S. Many thanks to the wonderful workshop participants, who taught me more than they could guess, and to the Gabriola Arts Council and especially Kate Wood for organising the Isle of the Arts Festival.


5 comments:

  1. I love that patchett quote.

    And teaching does boggle . it's a completely different thing than doing.

    well said.

    x

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  2. Oh yeah. Teaching definitely takes you out of your comfort zone! And silly me went and committed to a couple of kumihimo classes for my weavers' guild next month too after saying I wouldn't teach any more. What was I thinking?

    Bet your classes were wonderful anyway!

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  3. you have a wonderful way with words - I've felt all of that - and more! I keep thinking I'm going to stop teaching but then wonder who I will become??

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  4. Anonymous8:02 AM

    I am sure your workshops were appreciated by all and you passed on valuable knowledge/techniques/experience, which is basically what teaching should do. Just stay away from the over-thinking stuff, like evaluating evaluation methods and sticking to precise goal and outcome targets etc... That stuff all comes from the hyper-dull school of education. Jean-Pierre

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  5. The yurt workshop was lovely, Heather, and very much appreciated.

    i would write more but must get back to my sampler.

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