The Bellowing Breeze
†THL Njall Olaf Hagerson
To Teach Or Not To Teach, Is That Even A Question?
††††††††††††††† Last month, I spoke of the lifeblood of the SCA, itsí volunteers. This month, I would like to take that theme a step further. One of the most important forms of volunteerism in the SCA is teaching.† The time period that we choose to recreate spans centuries. No one person can know it all. So to that end, we each choose to recreate different aspects of the period. To keep the SCA from fragmenting, we all take what we know and weave it back into the fabric of the SCA. We do this by teaching.
††††††††††††††† Each and every one of this is capable of being a teacher. Of course, some will be better at sharing concepts and ideas then others. But, no matter how much of an old-timer or newcomer, you are, each person brings something new to the SCA. The SCA is strongest when each teaches what they know.
††††††††††††††† This point is best illustrated be looking at a collegium schedule. The wide range of classes offered is staggering. And that doesnít count the huge number of classes offered through local guilds and groups. You also see evidence of the numbers of teachers when you look on the web or at your local fighter practice. Likewise this very newsletter offers a venue for teaching. As I have tried to do with my monthly efforts.
††††††††††††††† So now, that you all know, that you too have something you can teach, how do you go about teaching it? The first lesson is very important. That is to be humble. When you teach it must be about imparting information, not about showing off. If you give the impression that you knowledge or skill is great, then by definition that of your student must be poor. This starts a trend in the students mind, that they arenít good enough. This is something that has to be avoided at all costs, if you want to student to learn.
†The second lesson is in patience, and more patience yet again. You must never lose patience with the progress of a student. Each of us learns at our own pace and in our own way. If you let any frustration show to a student, they are going to start down that Iím not good enoughĒ path.
The third lesson is the hardest. But it is easier for us, then for some real world teachers. It involves how people learn. Each person learns in his or her own way.† For most of us it comes down to a mixture of hearing, seeing and doing. But that mixture is different for everyone. I know for a fact, that I have to see something at least three times before I can start learning it. Then I have to do it to fix it in my mind. Others can read all about it and get it on the first reading. The trick is for the teacher to find the mix that lets each student learn. Because we are often teaching in small groups, itís possible find that mix for each student.
The last lesson is about pace and reinforcement. Make sure that each step or lesson is learn before moving to the next. Watch or listen to your students to see when that spark of learning occurs. It you are getting blank stares or vague questions, then you will need to cover the last point again. Once the student learns each lesson, it is import to give them positives reinforcement. They are doing this because they have to, so you need to reward them. Also before the next lesson, you need to do the other kind of reinforcement. Make sure each lesson starts with a review of what went before. For many people repetition is part of the learning process. So this review will help them cement their knowledge of the subject. Even if the students donít need the reinforcement, this review will help you get back into the swing of teaching the subject.
†So thatís its. Oh, of course the details of how you organize your material will depend on what you are teaching. But, the teaching process is the same pretty much no matter what the subject. So know that you know how to teach, why do it at all. Trust me on this one; once a student ďgets itĒ you will know it. You will see the light in the eyes, the eagerness for more. And that is your reward.
My purpose with these columns has been in part to drum up more field heralds. But also in part, it has been to teach the reader about how to be an effective field herald. And that involves teaching others how to be heralds. To that end, if you are ever at an event with me, and would like me to clear up anything I have written, you have just to ask. Until then, may your voice always be strong and clear.