Letters to impress

Over the course of the last five weeks i’ve been taking a evening course in Calligraphy. Basically I felt like I wasn’t doing enough extracurricular activities with PGCert and a full time job. Part of the reason I wanted to take this class was because during the day i’m interacting and teaching the students, at night for a hour or so i’m learning or being to taught how to be a teacher, I wanted to have that experience where i’m the learner again. Where i’m learning a skill i have little experience with. Seeing how the teacher explains the theory behind calligraphy and demonstrates the technique before working with the class. I also have a bit of a fascination with lettering and have been gathering books and tutorials on hand painted letters for almost a year. I was hoping this class could propel me on in my self study. Another reason was to help with my the Teaching Artist module. Sometimes i need to remind myself that for the students this is the first time they’ve painted a flat 3 metres tall, or scaled up a drawing, or hung a cloth. The whole of their 3 years of study is first time experiences. Its okay for myself who has done it before or has the confidence to try and experiment, but for them its daunting. So to put myself in their shoes, to feel excited, overwhelmed, defeated, elated (sometimes all at the same time) is important. Because the next time i’m leading a demonstration I can remember that there is a lot of information being handed out here, could i slow down? Or go over something twice? Ask questions? Give handouts? All the things i would want as a learner I will take on board for my teaching.

One of the first things the tutor told us was to date our work. And in 10 weeks time when the last class is done we could look back and see our progress. I was reminded of the blue giraffe analogy that Jamie presented us. For me, the analogy taught me to realise that skills like calligraphy take time, effort and diligence. Its very unusual to be instantly good at something and i’ve not to put myself down at the lack of first time success. We use this model of creative process:

  1. This is awesome!
  2. This is tricky
  3. This is shit 
  4. I am shit 
  5. This might be okay
  6. This is awesome!

I sense the frustration in the students because it mirrors my own. The rewards for the student for working through the “this is shit i am shit” portion will help them frther down the line. And if the final result is “ok” they will learn from the experience and i know the next time it will be awesome!


One thought on “Letters to impress

  1. Hi Scott, I think that cycle you describe is fairly universal, and I would suggest it applies to every aspect of life and not just ‘formal’ education. The trick is getting from 4 to 5. Seth Godin’s book ‘the Dip’ is quite good on this topic. I think it’s in the library if you are interested. Jamie


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