Monday, November 6, 2023

Teachable Moments


This morning, scrolling through FB, I saw a meme that said - Be teachable.  You are not always right.

I've mentioned (often) one of my mentors who always greeted us with 'what mistakes have you made lately?  what have you learned?'

This is an attitude I have tried to embrace in my own practice, but also?  To pass along to any students who may come to me.

When I entered the world wide net, I made a conscious decision to NOT use a user name, but my own.  Since I wanted people to hire me to teach, I needed to make sure they knew who was saying what I was saying, so that if they wanted to learn more of what I knew, they knew how to contact me.

So from the get-go, I used my 'real' name.

There have been times when this has worked against me - especially when people mis-hear or misunderstand what I have said, and then incorrectly quote me.  Like the time a student tried to convince another teacher I had taught her that making a cross while winding a warp wasn't necessary.  The mess the student made was therefore my fault, not hers.  Since the other teacher knew me, she asked - had I been teaching people to wind a warp with no cross?

No.  I had not.

From time to time I come across other people mis-quoting me.  If I feel is it appropriate, I will interject and 'explain' what I really mean, but I always try to do it in a way that is adding to the discussion, not shutting it down.

There was that time when someone asked a question about how to use their AVL in a particular way and since no one had actually answered the question in a helpful way, and it was something I did all the time, I answered the question in the group instead of privately (a mistake given the response that followed.)

After I shared what I did a number of (male) weavers jumped all over me, telling me that I obviously didn't know how to weave on an AVL, I had no understanding of how an AVL worked, that what I was suggesting was simply impossible and I needed to get thee hence to the AVL school and learn how to weave on such a sophisticated piece of equipment 'properly'.

Given I'd been weaving on an AVL a lot longer than some of these naysayers, I closed my internet connection and went back to my AVL, where I was weaving on it in precisely the way I had described.

When I came back to the group some hours later, I saw that the criticism of me had continued until Allen Fannin spoke up and said that while he and I had agreed to disagree on some issues (true), when I said something people should pay attention because "Laura actually knows what she is talking about."

In the end, just before Jon Violette left AVL to pursue other things, he confided in me that I had essentially beta-tested the AVL PDL.  I told him I knew that.

Weaving is a craft that will keep you humble.  Because there is always something more to learn.  Some variable that is going to throw a curve ball into the mix.  Some new way to approach creating a textile.  In spite of literally thousands of years of human beings playing with string, there is still more to be revealed to any individual weaver.

So, I try to keep in 'beginner mind' mode.  I try to think through the process.  Think about the characteristics of the materials I want to use.  Plan on how to marry different fibres, if they have different characteristics in order to create a textile for a particular purpose.  And then listen to what the loom and the yarn are telling me.

I tell students weaving is a biofeedback exercise.  If a weaver wants to create something they will go a long way towards success by paying attention.  Listening to what the loom is saying.  Feeling how the yarns are behaving.  And sometimes?  They need to adjust something - the loom, the yarn, or even more importantly, themselves.

Sometimes a student will say that they can't wait until they don't make mistakes anymore.

And I laugh.  Because really, if you aren't making mistakes, you aren't learning, just like my mentor always reminded us.

As always, books available here.

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