DO I NEED TO BE AN EXPERT?
This is the first in a series of blogs by one of our tutors, Melanie Blaikie. Come back each Thursday for a new installment!
Now is a great time to be teaching crafts. Why? TV programmes like Pottery Throw Down, Bake Off and the Sewing Bee have made ‘making’ fun again. We love watching the contestants get in a pickle and we think we might like to give it a try? Craft magazines are the fastest growing area of printed publications and visual social media like Pinterest and Instagram are great sources of creative inspiration.
In short, we’ve fallen in love – if we ever fell out – of making things with our hands. Being part of a sewing circle or a knit and natter group is great fun and the social and health benefits of crafting are now widely acknowledged. But learning new skills can only happen if we have someone to show us how it’s done.
I’ve been teaching jewellery making skills for more than ten years and in my travels I meet lots of amazingly talented and enthusiastic crafters in subjects from millinery to macramé, crochet to calligraphy. But when I suggest that maybe it would be fun or popular to teach those skills in a group, the most common response is, ‘But I couldn’t do that, I’m not an expert’.
So, the very first myth I’d like to dispel is that you need to be an expert in your subject to teach. Clearly, you need to be confident in the techniques you’re demonstrating and comfortable with answering questions but you most definitely do not need encyclopaedic knowledge of every stitch, seam or brush stroke ever known to man (or woman).
The essential criteria for becoming a ‘teacher’ are far more commonly held skills; patience, empathy, good communication skills, enthusiasm for your subject and a real love of being with people and helping them to master new crafts.
We have a new generation of WI members eager to continue the WI’s crafting tradition – and they’re very keen to learn. My own passion is sharing creative skills and I want to inspire keen crafters and talented makers – I know you’re out there – to consider teaching. If you’re interested or even slightly curious about teaching your craft, take a look at my new Denman course or watch out for the next edition of this blog when I’ll be talking about when and where to teach your classes.
Written by Melanie Blaikie, March 2019.