Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thoughts on Teaching

This is my dear son, and on Christmas Eve a few years ago we were discussing how best to teach students how to make the free pieced letters. He suggested I have them start with "easy" letters to get the hang of it.

I disagreed, because that would tell them that some letters were "hard" and I didn't want to give them a reason to NOT make them. I told him the first exercise would be to get the students to make their own name. "Because they have an emotional connection to their name, and no matter how complicated the letters are, come hell or high water, they'll do it."  My son wasn't so sure.

"Come," I told him. "I'll prove it. I'm going to teach you how to make your name."

So I did. And yes, he made his name panel. We were both drinking vodka and orange juice, so it was a very fun evening.

 I knew I had proved my point when he took out his phone and took photos of the finished name panel.

To this day, I take his name panel to my letter class, and I tell the students the story.  "So what you're really telling us, " one student piped up once, "is that if he can do it, then we can do it too."


The afternoon exercise is a four letter word using multiple fabrics, as you have seen in yesterday's post. I give each student a list of twelve words, and they can pick any word they like, and they can swap pages with anybody else in the class. Some words are trickier than others. And yes, Charlotte, students often have to be nudged gently to stretch themselves a bit. If they've done it in class, it will be much easier for them to continue on their own. Not every student needs that push. I had one lady once who wanted to make ALL the "hard" letters (I let her identify them) in class. Her logic was that once she could do those, she could make any letter.

Each student is different, and my job is to help them learn. As a teacher, it is also my job to give them something to think about, so they can take the lessons of the class and continue on their own when the class is over.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had the skills to teach quilting, but I don't. I used to teach methods to education students, and there are so many ways to go about structuring the class and motivating students. I'll bet the quilt classes are a lot of fun to do.

Quiltdivajulie said...

SUCH a great story ... And such a great example!

Sandi said...

I'd love to know what some of your hard words are. I love your words from your previous oist, especially wink!

Valerie Levy said...

I wish I had been lucky enough to take your class on free piecing when I started...but the distance made that difficult to figure out. Fortunately there was enough inspiration on your blog and determination in my noggin to get the job done. My letters are never perfect but I manage to get the point across every single time!

Terri said...

As a former typesetter, I like that Paul kerned his P and A - or nearly - and made his letters one word. Good job. Now I want my name...

Anonymous said...

OMG, what fun!!!!!!!

Megan said...

I think your goal - to assist students and take their individual learning styles into account - is excellent. We're not a 'one size fits all' species!

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