What makes a perfect workshop? I’ve been trying to figure it out because I’d surely like to be able to teach it!
Looking back over workshops I’ve taken, I’ve drawn up a list of good and bad – but I’d really like to hear from everyone about their experiences and their list of ingredients you want, and those you don’t!
Ingredients I want:
1. Content: I definitely want to go away feeling that I know something new.
2. Inspiration: I want to leave filled with new ideas and energy to get to work.
3. Time to experiment and feedback: I do like to have time to explore the new ideas/techniques/processes etc in the classroom with instant advice and/or feedback available.
4. Demos: I love seeing the teacher actually doing something.
5. Structure: I like a timetable for the duration of the workshop with a clear list of everything we’ll cover.
6. General discussion: there’s so much to be learned from other people in the class that a discussion time that everyone can share in (not just private little groups) is invaluable.
7. Question and answer: I do like the teacher to be very open about their subject and willing to answer questions; you feel really awkward if they respond “oh that’s something I’ll never reveal”. People with secrets should not live in glass houses! I want a teacher whose brains I can pick!
8. Humour: there should always be some humour!
9. A wider view: I like a teacher who can relate what we’re working on to the wider world of art, and who can give references, or names of artists to look up. People who can’t see beyond their own sewing machine are so limited. I need a frame of reference and context for what I’m learning.
10. I don’t need to make a finished piece – I know that some workshop organizations like the students to have something to “show” at the end of the workshop, but I find I never do my best work when in a group of people, so ideas, samples and good beginnings and lots of notes and things to follow up on are what works best for me.
What I don’t like:
1. I dislike a teacher who wastes my time with pointless exercises – in the worst class I ever took (at a prestigious quilt conference I may add), the teacher began with a much duplicated handout listing 24 Art 101 exercises in drawing and paper collage which took all week. In a machine quilting class, the teacher had us draw out and attempt to stitch traditional quilting patterns that were completely unsuitable to machine stitching.
2. I don’t like being given “rules” with no reason for the rules. I always want to know why!
3. I dislike not having any feedback from the teacher – if I attempt something new, I want to know how well I’ve done it, I don’t want vacuous smiles and simpering glazed eye reassurance! Give me feedback I can get my teeth into!
4. I want the teacher to be present all the time during class hours, and not locked into a corner with his/her cronies and groupies.
5. I don’t like a teacher who insists I do something (not related to the class material) his/her way without giving me a good reason why.
6. I don’t like a teacher who is unprepared, scattered and unsure of his/her knowledge.
7. I don’t like to have a long and expensive supply list and we never get to use the items on it, but I also don’t like having to buy something from the teacher – I like the option of being able to get it elsewhere for myself.
8. I once went to a workshop where there were 6 tables for the students and 6 tables where the teacher laid out the merchandise she had for sale - I felt like I’d paid to shop!!
0. I hate being pressured to produce something so that the organization can advertise – I want to work at my own pace and determine what I want to do in the workshop.
so…let me know what your perfect workshop would look like!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth