Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Teaching to learn

I got reminded of an important lesson tonight.

If you want to learn something, teach it.

Greg asked me to give him a hand with a beginning wheel class and I learned more about centering, opening, pulling, and recovering wobbles than I ever thought about. When you have to explain to someone something you do without thinking, it makes think of the way you do things. It forces you to go through the steps in detail and gives you a whole new outlook on each part of the process. There's also all the learning that takes place by watching how the students do things. It either gives you new ideas on doing things in the future or reinforces the reasons not to do it.

There's also that whole "wonder" thing I keep talking about. The students have the same look of wonder that I had when someone put their hands over mine and helped me center a lump of clay in seconds. Now I get to return the favor, and I remember thinking, "I'll never be able to do that", when someone did it for me. It's a nice circle.

It felt good that I could contribute some help and pay back some of the karma that I have been on the receiving end of for years. I can't begin to name all the folks that have helped me over the years (it's still ongoing), but you all know who you are and I hope you all know how much I appreciate it.


And Greg, thanks for teaching me by letting me teach.


Amy Sanders said...

Good for you, John, for taking the leap into teaching! I'm sure you did great, and the students really enjoyed your help. I remember the first time I taught, I had those exact same feelings of finding it hard to find words to describe what to do (it still happens!).

BTW- so sorry to hear that we just missed you at Ron's a while ago- that would've been fun!

jbf said...

Thanks for your words of encouragement. I really enjoyed it although I was worried whether I was teaching the correct methods. I come at many things kind of sideways and usually find a weird way to make it work. Heck, I just found out about a year ago that I was centering on the wrong side. The bright side is that now I can center on either side, the "right way" is just a bit easier.

I don't think I'll ever be up to being a real teacher, but I like helping out.

Anonymous said...

ah-ha! Now you have to help TEACH at muddy fun. No more just being the clay wedging guy.

The teaching thing - even just at Muddy Fun, which is the extent of my teaching - definitely makes you review what you do, how you do it, and then having to explain it! yikes! It makes you think.

jbf said...

At Muddy Fun we already had such great teachers (you, Julie, and Justin) there was no need for me to try to teach. I could just be the clay wedging (and don't forget "handing out") guy. In class, Greg wanted some help since it was just him.