“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. Thankfully, I had a really good 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 excelled. Not because I was necessarily smart, but because I was good at doing what was asked of me: namely memorizing information and spitting in 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.
Thankfully, I’m mostly over my need to please other people. But not completely. Holding the beginnings of what would hopefully become a hook, I asked my blacksmith instructor 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 that 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.”
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