“So what did you think of blacksmithing?” friends ask.
“I loved it,” I say. “Though it was one of those classes I could have loved or hated based solely on the teacher’s ability to convince me I could actually do it. Thankfully, I had an encouraging teacher.”
In my ten weeks here at the Folk School, I haven’t just been studying blacksmithing, or cooking, or writing. I have also been studying teachers, and myself as a student.
During my years of “traditional” schooling, I learned to do what was asked of me: memorize information, spit it back out. I was also one of those kids who wanted to please the adults in my life – namely my parents and teachers – and so I did what it took.
My education here is a little different. First, there’s more freedom for creativity to flourish. But you can’t memorize creativity. Needless to say, I’m still working on developing my creativity muscle.
Secondly, though I’ve mostly gotten over my need to please other people, sometimes that fear of not doing “what the teacher wants” rears its head. Holding the beginnings of what would hopefully become a hook, I asked my blacksmith instructor (Matt Jenkins) what he thought of my work so far. “Well, do you like it?” he asked. “Yeah,” I said, wondering what that had to do with anything. “If you like it, it’s good,” he said. Wait – I determine what’s good here? At first it was a little alarming. I don’t know what I’m doing. How do I know if it’s any good? But then the idea started to grow on me. After all, I was the one who was going to take this hook home and use it.
Later I told another student what my instructor said. “That’s what so great about this place,” she said. “You’re not trying to please a teacher – just yourself.”
Rebecca Gallo is a host at the John C. Campbell Folk School. This entry originally posted at http://renaissancerebecca.wordpress.com
Reading the posts that you make, get me so excited for next Fall, when I get to serve as Student Host. I love your insight into the work and community.
Such good insight for students and instructors alike. What a great post! Then again, I’ve enjoyed ALL your posts, Rebecca! Keep writing and all best,
I was in a September cooking class with you and cooked Black Forrest Cake, on my birthday. My husband took Cliff’s woodturning class and we both had so much fun. Rebecca, I enjoyed your being in our class, your knowledge of the school, your eagerness to join in, your humor and your youthful insight to our learning experience. I wish you well in the next chapter of your life. You were very smart to come to this school in addition to the traditional modes of education. I hope to see you there again one day. We will be back as soon as possible.