Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

You teach best what you most need to learn.
Richard Bach, Illusions

I read this book as a teenager, and it made an impression on me as I was shaping my thinking about self-determination; will; destiny; personal responsibility; choices and so on.

Over the past few weeks I have come to once again recognise the truth in this little quote.  From my experience, as I start to think about and prepare to teach something; it often becomes clear that what I know at a superficial level is not enough; and that I need to go deeper or broader in my understanding in order to be an effective teacher.

It sometimes also means that something I am unclear about or uncertain about in my own practice needs to be taught and repeated for me to lose that uncertainty.

The single page binding was an example of this. I don't bind often enough to have actually laid down in my memory bank perfectly, all the steps. So I remind myself each time I sit down to stitch by glancing at my notes and refreshing my thinking.  Teaching people means I have to be sure of what I am doing and know what I am doing, and be confident!

I loved teaching the binding on the weekend because I found the keys to the stitching - the two or three things people needed to hold onto as principles or guides. Like "Remember the cover always has two stitches on the outside". "Always bring the needle back between the page and the stitches". "As soon as you have two pages to hold in your hand; start linking back" and so on.

Now none of this makes sense in the absence of the book in front of you - but they are like little mantras to hold onto, which will always help you know where to go next and what to do next.  So by teaching and repeating I have created my own "notes to self" which are now embedded in my brain. Yay!

©2011 Fiona Dempster Finding my place (detail)


  1. What a beautiful binding! Is this book made of hand made papers?

  2. "As soon as you have two pages to hold in your hand; start linking back" This has applications to just about any venture, in life or in art! Great food for thought, F.

  3. Thursday already... where has the week gone? Those little mantras are like an angel on your shoulder to remind you just when you need it.

  4. I've also found that, as a teacher, you're often the one that learns the most when you lead any class..... (mmmm purty book!)

  5. Hi Leslie - not this time; the paper is bought paper which I rusted and created lovely patterns/images on it' and the cover is rusted metal (hmmm a theme emerges). It's an elegant and stylish binding I think.

    G/TT - a fun way to think about life and art!

    Jo - yes it flies does it not? I like that idea of angels on my shoulder just when I need them.

    Ronnie - I agree - I learnt so much over the past few weekends! I like this book too - rust and more rust.

  6. a gentle reminder as i make the shift from teaching teenagers who have to be there to adults who want to be there!

  7. Hi V - yes that will be an interesting shift to observe! I certainly always learn with them as well. Have a great workshop!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.