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Quilting Workshops - A Students Perspective


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty”. ~Henry Ford

I’m passionate about teaching and learning. Life is all about learning. Not a day goes by when I haven’t learnt something new. The Talmud (a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, customs and history) contains several quotes regarding learning. Two of my favourites are –

“He who adds not to his learning diminishes it”; and
“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned it is the season of the harvest”.

Winston Churchill one said “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.”
I think this mindset is familiar to a lot of people at different stages of their lives.

I’ve noticed that quilters like to learn. They like to learn how to improve their skills, how to perform certain tasks with precision and relevance; and how to overcome difficult procedures to achieve their goals. Quilt tutors like to impart their knowledge and expertise; they love to witness those light bulb moments when their students really “get it”, and they love to surprise and inspire their students with new and different ideas. To be able to learn and teach successfully there needs to be a meeting of the minds with regards to workshops and the expectations of both students and tutors.

I’ve noticed that most quilt organizations will have some sort of set of Workshop Rules issued to students with the expectation that they are abide by. I think it’s important to have some guidelines for students, but I feel many organizations don’t address the other side of the equation – what are the expectations of the students upon their tutors and will they be met?

I believe that if organizations can address both these aspects of workshops i.e. learning and teaching, then the expectations of stake holders will be met and probably exceeded.

I have on many occasions heard students expressing their disappointment at the presentation of information by certain tutors and I think this is something that needs open discussion. So here goes…..

Firstly let us look at the expectations of students upon their tutors. I am both a student and tutor in the field of quilting so I have experienced expectations on both sides of the fence.

When I decide to attend a workshop as a student, the most important outcome for me is to receive what I call VT & VM; Value for Time, followed closely by Value for Money. My time and how it is expended is extremely important to me. As it is, I’m never going to get every quilt I desire to make, completed in two lifetimes, let alone one! So for me, time is of the essence.

I expect to be fully informed about the nature of the workshop to facilitate a decision on whether to take the workshop or not. A Workshop Outline is an excellent way of imparting critical information to prospective students. I expect to be informed in a few simple paragraphs by the actual tutor, on the type of class being offered, together with the anticipated outcomes, methods and modus operandi of reaching those outcomes. The Workshop Outline should not only contain the core information of what, why, where, when and how of the workshop on offer, but a comprehensive list of requirements and materials needed including specific tools required to enable me to achieve a successful outcome.

I would also expect that if this workshop is aimed at a specific level of skills (i.e. advanced skills required), that this essential information is explained clearly in the Workshop Outline. I would expect there to be a guideline provided to students outlining what skills determine an advanced student.

I expect that tutors will ensure that tools and equipment required for the workshop are available and in stock and there is ample supply, so that all the students can be catered for, which means no wasting precious time in borrowing of equipment from other students.

I always expect the workshop teaching area to be roomy, well lit, have comfortable tables and seating, and have plenty of access to sufficient peripheral equipment such as cutting boards, ironing boards and the like.

Punctuality of start and finish times is a very important expectation for me. I make arrangements to fit around my workshop, and so I expect the start and finish times to be adhered to.

I have a very reasonable expectation that I won’t find myself in a workshop bursting at the seams with students. I expect to be able to learn in an area and environment that is favourable and conducive to a happy and successful experience.

This takes me to my expectations of the tutor. I expect the tutor to fulfill my expectations of learning. I trust that the tutor has the knowledge and skills and desire to impart knowledge in a friendly and amiable demeanor. It is important that the tutor has a “generosity of spirit”. I also expect the tutor to be able to handle “demanding students” so that the whole class gets the necessary attention each individual needs. Students absorb any information the tutor wishes to impart, and I have the reasonable expectation that the tutor will have the capacity to be flexible in her teaching to facilitate a satisfying experience for all.

So that in a nutshell is an outline of my expectations as a student when I attend a workshop. I would very much like to hear your comments about this subject. It’s not all about the business and the tutor. I believe that students have a very strong stake in their learning and deserve to voice their expectations to reach their desired goal – of successful learning in their field of interest.

A final quote from Richard Bach – “Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers and tutors.”

Go to the forum site to make any comments. The link is at the bottom of this article.In a few weeks, I’ll be writing about my expectations as a tutor. Watch out for it.




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Content copyright © 2014 by Judie Bellingham. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Judie Bellingham. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Judie Bellingham for details.

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