An off handed comment by someone in FB land got me to thinking about informal teaching. What do I mean by informal teaching? Thank you for asking, random internet that really is just me talking to myself before coffee.

Informal teaching, to me, is what we do in the SCA, it’s the peer (not Peer, just peer) to peer teaching in relaxed environments. It also happens in every handwork guild and stitch and bitch where people are sharing their skills with others. Sometimes it’s more on the formal end, with actual class sign ups, and actual classes and set times and tables and chairs, and sometimes it’s someone turning up where you’re sitting and going ‘Um. So. My knitting is a mess, can you help me sort it out?’

Anyhow, this lovely person in FB land echoed the sentiment that I’ve heard in many places ‘When I know enough, then I’ll be able to teach’.

Woah. I mean, I know just enough to know I don’t know diddly much of anything, and I teach. Am I arrogant for having the audacity to teach things? (please don’t answer that random internet that is really just me talking to myself)

So I got to thinking a bit more, and realized that there’s two different flavours, if you will, of teaching. There’s the one we see modelled all the time, especially if one has been to post secondary education. That’s the teaching model of ‘I am a Subject Matter Expect (SME). I will graciously impart upon you some of my decades of acquired wisdom and can answer all your questions without blinking hard.’

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HG Kitty at bookbinding class taught by an awesome SME

But that isn’t the only flavour of teaching, especially not in an informal setting around practical things. There is also the teaching model of ‘I would love to share with you this thing I just learned myself. I might not have all the answers, but I will happily bring you to how far I’ve gotten on this path, and if we need to go further, we can do it together.’

Guess which one I often fall into? Guess which one MANY handwork classes fall into?

Now of course, teaching like life is rarely as cut and dried and black and white as all this. I do teach things where I’m a lot further along my exploring path and can call myself a subject matter expert. (Although I wince when I do, cause that’s just begging someone to try and find your blind spots, and we all have them, and learning is never ever done, that’s part of the awesome about it.) I also teach things that I’m just excited to be doing, and don’t have all the answers, and haven’t spent 20 yrs delving into the theories and details and so on and so forth.

This is not to say that you should be teaching that thing that you just picked up last week and still can’t figure out up from down on. There’s a point before which you’re just too much a beginner yourself to be much help to others, but there’s also a looooong stretch after fumbling and before SME where your thoughts and skills and abilities are valuable to others. Heck, so are your screw ups, those are often even MORE valuable to others starting out. You /remember/ how awkward that tool was to hold until you got the knack. An SME hasn’t felt that awkward in a very long time, more than likely, and its easy to forget those early frustrations.

So all of that long windedness to say ‘go forth, confident beginners, and share your skills!’ You know so very much more than you think!


FooL 2016

You may have guessed that I’m not spectacular at updating on a super regular schedule. I’m sure there’s a fancy way of subscribing, or tossing this in an RSS feed or something brilliant that I haven’t looked into yet if you really want to make sure you keep up on my irregular posts, or you can just hope for a nice surprise when you remember to stop by. 🙂

This past weekend was Fruits of Our Labours (aka FooL), which is the first camping event of the season. It’s also one of my favourite camping events as it’s all A&S, all the time, baybeee! The fact that it was my second event, my husband’s first AND where I got my AoA are all just gravy on top of delicious. It’s full of formal teaching, informal teaching, hanging out with artisans doing their thing and generally a whole lot of abject geekery and awesome. This ranges from pastry classes to music classes to blacksmithing, stained glass, weaving, to anything a teacher can be conjured for. Mix in fencing, heavy fighting, archery and thrown weapons and you need about 4 clones to fully appreciate the whole of the event.

I learned after my first fool (This year was my 3rd) to ease up a bit on the non-stop classes, not because I’m not interested, but I ended up exhausted with brain full waaaay too early and missed out on the casual hanging and conversations and the like. I think this year, I finally found a good mix. Teach one, take 4 classes over 2 days and there was plenty of lounge, chatter and plot time.

I taught Pysanky to 5 delightful ladies (and one adorable baby who was snuggled up with her Mum), and there was a range of skills from never tried before, to woefully out of practice. We had no dropped eggs! I had it scheduled for 2 hrs, and because we ran right up to court, we couldn’t linger, and we needed more time. When I do it again (and I will), I’ll have to work out how to make that work better. Rushing is not a feature in pysanky and you lose out on some of the best part of the zen meditative that makes it so delightful when you’re up against a time crunch. I needed a few more photocopies too, but we managed. 13244170_10154102385660856_147102014642354582_o

Classes that I took were pastry making, period cooking tools, getting to know your dremel and the choral workshop. Which is a whole lot of brain info and awesome and learning, and very few concrete THINGS or new projects coming home with me. Which is a feature, all in all. 2016-05-22 10.13.42

Kitty was hanging out on a period grill (OMG SO COOL!) and being threatened by a Countess during that class.

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Kitty was not allowed to use the dremel during that class, but I did let her pose with my finished plant stake. As we only have one plant that we’ve actually planted on purpose at our house, clearly Quince Tree the Second needed a name tag. I only had room for Quince though, rather than the whole thing. I also learned in that class that my selection of bits for my dremel is basically awful, and that could explain a lot of why I couldn’t seem to do anything I wanted. There will be keeping an eye out for sales on more bits. (And thank you Gwyn for letting me borrow yours!)

Camping was cold overnight (this is the first year we’ve been tent camping at FooL), but delightful generally (must work on the bed situation before Pennsic). New chairs are win, I’ve no clue how the pop up keeps popping up, but it survived another event and the mosquitos eventually just won. There was new class plotting, and more class plotting, and impromptu bobbin lace classes and the people just make this event so much delight and awesome.

Now we get to look forward to camping at Trillies!

Musings and eyelets

Possibly musings over eyelets as I am pretty confident that the eyelet rounds on my fian flag are going to take forever. Possibly two or three forevers at this rate. At that’s just for the border.

It’s been a while since I posted, because there hasn’t been a lot of A&S going on. A lot of service, a bit of events, some life (good and bad) and the ever present eyelets. But white on white are seriously dull photos.

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See? Seriously dull photos. Not the most exciting embroidery I’ve ever done either. Wheee. How dare the slow and fussy stuff actually look good? The nerve of it!

Anyhow, at the last two events (more details on each forthcoming, I promise!) We’ve spent the mornings in the kitchen, and the afternoons goofing off. It’s been really really good. My feet disagree (note to self, need better shoes that don’t look silly with the garb), but the camaraderie and the work makes the sitting around later feel all the sweeter. I understand now why those who end up in the kitchen often end up in the kitchen often.