I began teaching handbuilding classes to adults about a year and a half ago. Since that time I’ve taught clay techniques to all sorts of people from as young as six up to as wise as eighty.
The decision to teach is, and was, an easy one. My past corporate life gave me tons of teaching, or training as we called it, and course development practice.
Yet, despite how easy it was to begin teaching, a niggle of doubt pokes up it head up every once in awhile. “Those who can’t, teach” says that voice inside. An old saying, so old there is no way it can be untrue says that voice.
It’s a voice that never reared its ugly head when I was in human resources. Teaching was just one aspect of my job. Being good at it wasn’t even a critical criteria for achieving good performance reviews.
Everything is different now.
Teaching clay feels like an admission of failure. Instead of being one aspect of my job (and an aspect I thoroughly enjoy), it feels like I’m giving up on selling my own work or not selling enough.
The reality? I sell more of my work now then I did before I started teaching.
Teaching students stretches me constantly.
It reminds me of techniques I’d let fall by the wayside and renews my enthusiasm for them. (My students would be shocked to learn I’ve only recently become a coil building fan.)
It exposes me to new methods and ideas … construction methods I would never have before contemplated, mediums I wouldn’t have sought for inspiration.
It deepens my own knowledge of clay construction tips and tricks. I learn new ones during every single class session.
It reinforces the playful side of clay and pulls me out of the “blinders on” of production.
In short, it takes everything I thought I knew and turns it upside down. All of this, and more that I probably don’t even realize, is reflected in the work I create now.
I would assert that the saying really should say, “Those Who Teach, Can”