The Teacher Learns More than the Student

December 4, 2005

Class went well yesterday. It amazes me that someone will write me a check for doing something that I love to do and something that I would do even if they didn’t write me a check!

I find a common stumbling block as we go through my classes though. As the students get a ways into their projects they become frustrated with their work and make comments like, “Why doesn’t mine look like your sample?” “My pieces are bigger than yours.” “Would this piece be wrong here?” Sometimes they will just say that they are not happy with it and they lose that initial drive that got them moving in the first place. I find that they are afraid to take chances to see if something works or not. They always want to play it safe. I am beginning to see that I am teaching the ART of quilting, and art is not safe or comfortable.

My quilting classes are not the usual classes that tell you cut your pieces these sizes, put color 1 here, color 2 there and finish the border and binding with color 3. There is nothing wrong with those classes. Craft is very important and must be learned and internalized in order to free up the mind to explore other areas.

But for some reason my quilting classes lean more toward the art and creative end. I teach how to use materials and processes to get to a desired end, but the end can not be seen at the beginning because each student has to put a bit of themselves into the piece and listen to the piece and follow those guides to get to the end. So far I have not consciously planned my classes that way but I am beginning to see that I should start planning classes to move in that direction. Maybe I need to start including an introduction to the design elements; line, shape, repetition, emphasis, etc. I could also develop a class on color and value. H-m-m-m-m.

By the end of the class we had some pieces that were actually very nice- very creative- with some nice repetition of line, some good variation in value, and emphasis in one form or another. I’m hoping that the students learned some things to take home with them. I know that I learned a lot to think about and apply in the coming days.


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