Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rewards of Teaching

I teach a once a week quilting class at my church.  It has been a little frustrating as the women who have been attending have been rather uncommitted.  They show up sporadically, wander in and out and complain if I tell them what to do.  This all changed this summer.  I had four younger girls who wanted to sew so I told them "sure." As the ladies would show up I would tell them "You can take the summer off if you want." And one by one they did.  The church secretary told me a couple of them were in the office one day and one said something to the effect that she got mad when I told her what to do.  The secretary's 8 year old daughter, who is one that has been sewing this summer, piped up and told the lady "Hey, that is what she's supposed to do, she's the teacher."  I probably sound like an orge but I'm really not. I've been extremely patient for the last six years. Only one of the ladies had ever sewn before but they all acted like they already knew everything.  It's hard to teach someone who already knows everything. I've never seen folks so easily distracted.  Anyway I'm not going into the dynamics of all that comes into play with these ladies. I'll just say this is not the only area in life with which they struggle. 

Ah, but the! What success we had this summer.  Each one of these girls finished projects.  They each made several pot holders, learning the process of piecing, designing and putting a "quilt" together on a small project. Learned to iron, too.  We did bunches of crazy patch pin cushions and experimented with the decorative stitches on the new machine. What a great fun day that was. We did more in two monthes than all the "grown-ups" did in six years. What a joy it is to have teachable students.  Alas, school has started and the only student that remains is the above mentioned 8 year old who is home-schooled and is allowed to come to sew if all her school work is up to par.  She loves to sew so it has been a good motivating tool for her school work.   She follows direction and is very correctable. She has finished her first quilt. It took her only two weeks! Here's the picture. Notice how well her seams meet.  She has a good eye for detail and for color. It was so fun to see her pick up the chain of pairs from the back of the machine and have her marvel at how much she had gotten done in a short amount of time.  Delight for her was in every step completed.  Delight for me was hearing her repeat a phrase I use when we were picking fabric for her next quilt... "Let's audition them."  (she already has four projects in mind for the future based on people she loves). She gets the whole premise of quilting on a level I've not seen in many.  She started out wanting to make this for her mother's friend who is expecting a baby.  When she finished it, she held it close and smiled a tiny precious smile. "I might keep it."  Didn't we all have that feeling with our first quilt?  I am blessed.  I am hoping that this child will lead the ladies back in with a bit of an attitude change.


At August 29, 2010 at 10:06 AM , Anonymous Fern said...

looks good...nice to get rid of some stash too

At August 29, 2010 at 11:05 AM , Blogger Elaine Adair said...

What a lovely story. I think the 'older' women know what they know from a while ago, and might have felt intimidated being shown 'new' things. Something about changes??? Anyway, it's nice to see the young girls so excited. Thanks for this story. 8-)

At August 29, 2010 at 12:36 PM , Blogger Jocelyne said...

You are obviously doing something right; young people don't get fooled easily - if you were not a good teacher, they would have walked out on you.

I say ignore the older ones and show off the success of your young ones.... sometimes you have to teach in a 'backward' way.... if kids can do a good job, maybe their mothers/aunts/grandmothers can learn a lesson here.

Keep up the good work.


At August 29, 2010 at 12:52 PM , Blogger WayMooreFunQuilting said...

Cheri -

don't spend your time trying to 'push a rope'! What a special joy it is to teach some one some thing! And even more special when they actually want to learn! If the light bulb never goes on over the head, then it's time to bless and release. The girls, however, are probably blessing you and what a joy that is to experience!
Teach the teachables; close the door on those who already know it all!

At August 29, 2010 at 1:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have found and made a life long quilter. this young lady will be confident in trying new things and succeeding. so you should enjoy your success and not worry about those who have no interest in what you are teaching.

At August 29, 2010 at 2:29 PM , Blogger Pattilou said...

Having taught middle school we came up with the term of "herding cats". Teaching the older ladies sounds a bit like herding cats! But, the success of the young ones makes up for it! Nice quilt!

At August 29, 2010 at 11:57 PM , Anonymous Linda said...

I am 57 & have wanted for a long time to make a quilt. I am just nervous about making a fool of myself in front of my piers.I wish I had someone like you to learn from. Those ladies don't know what they are missing.

At August 30, 2010 at 4:04 AM , Blogger Cynthia said...

Cheri, this is awesome! I love that she is wanting to learn at such an early age. Her quilt is beautiful and has inspired me to finish my first quilt. I wish you were close to me. I'd be there with this precious little girl so that you could tell me what to do!

At August 30, 2010 at 8:55 AM , Blogger The Calico Quilter said...

And a little child shall lead them! Isn't the attitude of children around new things wonderful? Alway ready to learn, not afraid of being embarassed, not afraid to jump in and try. I hope the ladies learn from her.

And, a reply to your commenter "Linda": Please don't be afraid of being embarassed. Find a good teacher at your local quilt shop or just ask questions when you are around quilters. I can't tell you the number of questions I've answered while browsing at the quilt shop. It's such fun to see a person new to quilting be inspired and challenged. A lot of people are glad to share their knowledge and won't look down on you. If they have an attitude, they shouldn't be teaching and you don't need to learn from them!

At August 30, 2010 at 9:47 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not a bad teacher- as a piano teacher I often tell my adult students that their success will depend a great deal upon their willingness to fail. Children will make mistakes willingly and gracefully, backing up and correcting them without judgment, until the result is what they had envisioned (picture a baby learning to walk and plopping onto its diapered bottom a thousand times- he persists until he can walk, run and climb!)

Adults think they should be perfect already- that they cannot fail and that their very first result should be professional quality work! From the viewpoint of the teacher this is ridiculous (as I tell my students, "if it was that easy, I wouldn't have wasted the last 30 years of my life learning how to do it!"), but it is what is in their heads. They think if it is going to take more than a week or two to learn, they are a failure! Some journeys just aren't like that! Making mistakes, needing instruction, failing does not make you a failure! Your capacity to fail dictates your capacity to learn in all aspects of life.

Keep teaching anyway and let your students know that you aren't perfect either! You don't ever really know what lessons your students are learning from you, but years down the road, one may come back to share what you taught them!

At August 31, 2010 at 4:25 AM , Blogger Helen in the UK said...

Huge congrats to your student for a wonderful first quilt finish!!
Congrats too to you for persevering with the classes and now you've found a group of girls who are really appreciating your efforts :)

At August 31, 2010 at 4:29 PM , Blogger kwiltnkats said...

How fulfilling you must feel. The seams look terrific! Great instruction. Wonderful story about it and I second all the comments you've received.

At September 1, 2010 at 8:52 AM , Blogger Barb in MI said...

What a joy your 8-year-old student must be. As a retired teacher, I think we all remember students like this. Hope she continues to have the enthusiasm she had now.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home