On teaching workshops

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When I was doing my talk to the Quilters’ Guild Area Day on Saturday, I was asked again if I do workshops.  I get asked this fairly often after a talk.  I don’t.  One reason is that I spend a substantial part of most weeks teaching someone something (or trying to) and I don’t really want to be doing more at the weekend.  I also don’t want the hours of preparing samples and materials packs.

But there is another reason.  I have no idea what I would teach in them.  I don’t do anything at all difficult or requiring explanation or coaching.  I layer things up and then stitch them down:

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I can see that this could sound like false modesty, but it brings me to an article about teaching I read years ago and then unfortunately lost, which suggested that the hardest thing to teach is something you find really easy.  Because something comes easily to you you cannot understand why the student can’t grasp it.  You can’t find lots of ways to explain it, because it is so obvious to you.  Someone is struggling with something you find second nature and neither of you can understand the processes in the other’s head.  I think anyone can stick a bead on a sequin on a square of velvet.  I don’t know how I could make that last all day.

But things that you find difficult are easier to teach because you have had to work them out for yourself and can put yourself in the position of the learner.  You probably have to work it out using your own experience, and you have probably thought through several examples, so you have already got the start of a bank of teaching materials.  This makes perfect sense to me.

Such a shame I lost the article.  The only other bit of wisdom I could pass on came from the first embroidery workshop I ever did which was by Louise Watson, and she said that the difference between a professional and an amateur embroiderer was that the amateur stops too soon and the professional adds more and more.  I have lived by that piece of advice for years.

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7 thoughts on “On teaching workshops

  1. Sounds a bit like the best advice I was ever given. If the colours aren’t working – don’t take one out – add one more – or even two. That came from Constance Howard herself. 🙂 It was the very start of my love of working with colour.

    1. I hate saying no, but sometimes you have to. I really admire people who do it well. Jean Littlejohn was fantastic, for example, she had it planned down to the last five minutes – really impressive, but I could only stand there saying you could do that or you could do this.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, though.

    2. That is good advice – only with Kaffe Fassett’s never just use one shade of red – use 12 then it will work. i have no idea why people might want to work with beige. I think this is why I haven’t been so keen on my own new work – working with a muted palette – dull!

      BTW what is the situation with your threads – I would like to have some.

      1. Will email you re the threads. Have a limited supply and a few left to dye.

        I’ve learnt to love ‘beige’ – but prefer to call it ‘colours of decay’. Once I have a theme I find it easier to use….

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