Monday, February 20, 2012

Teaching -- Sewing, or Anything Else For That Matter

There are many people who purport to be sewing experts.  There are many people who are teachers or who try to be teachers.  Like anything else, some are better at it than others. 

I know lots of people who do beautiful work.  They can sew or craft or embroider or whatever it is.  Some have won prizes for their creations.  Some of these folks are great teachers, and I've learned a lot from them.  Actually, I've learned a lot even from the not so good teachers! 

Some people who can do a thing are just not good at explaining to someone else how to do it.  So I was thinking about what it takes to be a good teacher.  My friend John's wife Nan is a good teacher.  What makes her and other good teachers I know into good teachers?

Patience has to be the first thing, and a sense of humor is a must.  And a big dose of self-control -- because I'm CERTAIN that anyone who sees someone else struggle with something MUST want to just grab it and do it!  But what I think is the most important trait a good teacher has is that they never make you feel bad or stupid for doing something wrong, and they know that there are certain things that can be done in more than one way.  I've never been fond of the "my way or the highway" school of anything.

As part of our church's Board of Education, every week I help guide small children through the learning process on many topics.  I've learned that you have to repeat things and watch for the glimmer of understanding to light their faces.  I love that moment!  And when there are frowns I often ask if there are questions, because I know something's cooking in their little heads! 

With adults, whether it's been teaching someone to use a machine, or follow a pattern or choose appropriate tools or materials, I've tried to be careful to make clear distinctions between what must be done only one way, and where you can make multiple choices.  If you know the differences you can go a long way.

You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.
 W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) British novelist and playwright.

So for example, if you're sewing a tee shirt and you sew the sleeves in before you sew up the side seams, that works fine.  In fact, sewing the sleeve in flat is easier and doesn't make a difference in most casual garments.  But if you want to sew the sleeves in without sewing the shoulder seams together, that might not work. 

During the past three years I helped ASG get a mentoring program started.  One of the leading principles of mentoring is to allow the protege to DO the task.  Mentors offer suggestions, give guidance, help the protege think things through and make good decisions.  They say "try this" or "did you ever think about that" and only correct when things are going the wrong way.

If you understand the goal, and you understand the options, then you should have the freedom to go the way it's most comfortable for you.  That's what's so great about new sewists, they don't know they're not supposed to leave garments unhemmed or use denim for a swimsuit.

I don't believe in the Sewing Police.  I don't believe in the School of One Way Only.  I did not drink that Kool Aide.  So if something is working for you, and you're getting the desired results, keep doing it that way.  Be open to other suggestions, and if what you're doing doesn't work, try something else.  But beware the "My Way or the Highway" group.  And try not to be their leader!  Everyone will thank you.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your visit today!