Should You Share Your Skills?

If you're a crafter of any description I'm sure at one time or another you've shared some of your skills with others, whether that's showing a friend how to do something or teaching a group of strangers in a formal class. 

You probably know I occasionally teach free motion embroidery and it's something I really enjoy.  I love passing my (mainly self taught) knowledge on to others and seeing their joy as they "get it". 

Me, about to teach a group of 12 people at the Knitting and Stitching show.

That's why I was particularly shocked recently when I came across an Instagram story by a gold work embroidery artist I've recently starting following saying that she'd been told on several occasions that either she shouldn't teach gold work at all, or if she did, she shouldn't teach people to do it properly. 

I rarely comment on the IG stories of people I don't know personally but this time I felt I had to and when I mentioned I couldn't believe she'd been told that, she said that it was a comment she'd received not once but several times.  She should teach people "poorly" or not show them everything, presumably so that they couldn't copy her work.  This particular person is a graduate of the London College of Fashion, so I seriously doubt that anyone taking a one day workshop with her would be able to copy her work,  but even so she said that she took pride in her teaching and wanted to pass on as much knowledge as she could.



I feel the same.  While I'm not a graduate of anywhere what I do know I want to pass on to participants in any class I teach as fully as possible.  I want them to know what I know, and love free motion embroidery as much as I love it.  

As an occasional attendee of a craft or art classes myself I would always trust the teacher to teach me well, and it would never occur to me (or wouldn't have until now) that information may purposely be given incorrectly or only in part.

And at the end of the day, if I teach them poorly it only reflects badly on me.  If they can't produce a piece of work they're pleased with because I've only told them part of my method then at the very least they're going to get disheartened and give up.   Or they'll think that it's my fault because I haven't taught them properly, or that actually I'm not very good at what I do.  

I also think the more you put into teaching a class, the more you can get out of it yourself.  I've made some lovely friends who I've initially met when they've come to one of my classes, and I'm sure that wouldn't have happened if I'd taught them poorly.  I've also learnt from people attending my classes, on more than one occasion a question a class participant has asked has prompted me to go away and experiment more myself. 

2 happy students!

As with so many things in life I think you get out of teaching what you put in, if you're not being open and honest with your students, then it's not going to be an enjoyable experience on either side. 

I'd love to know what you think.   Do you think a class tutor should show you everything she knows about the technique she's teaching, or should she keep some "secrets" to herself?

4 comments

  1. I think to skill share is so important and I have always offered to show people how to sew as I see this as my way of both paying it forward, and also in gratitude for all the helpful people I have known in the past. I think its especially important to skill share now with our disposable culture - as well as passing on the great feel good factor when you can say 'ya made it myself'

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was shocked that it should be suggested that one should teach "poorly". I do not have a lot of skill but what I have I am happy to share and to the best of my ability. Maybe if you produce work for sale then you may be afraid that someone would copy you and take away some of your custom but, in that case, there would be an incentive to increase and improve your own skills.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The idea of teaching poorly should be a complete anathema to a true educator. Sharing knowledge is how we grow as individuals and as a society. I understand that we live in a world of cheap knockoffs but those who buy them would never buy an artisanal item because they don't value it or the time and creativity put into making it. Teaching poorly doesn't provide protection against student appropriation but it does lessen the teacher. Ultimately it will harm the livelihood trying to be protected as students will stop coming as they find a better teacher.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Maybe they meant she should not share her designs? Re the 'do it poorly' thing no real teacher will have a bar of that! Imparting knowledge is a gift!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for your comment, every one is read and appreciated. It means a lot to me that you take the time to read and comment on my posts.