I’ve taught a number of classes during my woodworking days. Teaching is one area that I thoroughly enjoy each and every time I’m called upon. I’ve found that most woodworkers who take classes are very receptive to direction as well as open to new or different ideas on how to go about the craft. I enjoy the looks on their faces when they grasp the idea put forth, and I like it when that bewildered look in their eye turns into a twinkle.
In my prior life, although I knew each woodworker had a certain method of work, I didn’t realize how different those methods could be. I adopted my Dad’s way of thinking , do it his/my way or do it wrong. Since becoming a part of the Popular Woodworking staff I’ve been privy to a number of different paths that all lead to the same end result. Editor Christopher Schwarz, Senior Editor Robert W. Lang and I approach woodworking from various directions, but each of us arrives at the same destination.
So, you may ask, what about Managing Editor Megan Fitzpatrick? She’s the subject of this entry. Today, Megan and I began work on a project in the Popular Woodworking shop. She asked that I teach her my woodworking methods. Poor woman.
Megan has a couple challenges in learning woodworking and at least one big benefit. You might not know this, but Megan is a teacher in her own right. She is a former adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati (and now a 4th-year PhD student). I’ve found those who teach, when learning something they haven’t mastered, are usually like a sponge when being taught. I’m sure Megan fits this model too.
What about those challenges? Chris and Bob (no, they’re not the problem) have each spent time in the shop working with Megan, filling her head full of their woodworking methods. She’s benefited from their teaching and now she’s traipsing down my path as well. She’s being shown a third method of work. This could be good , or it could be bad.
With each new teacher she must forget, or at least put out of mind for the time being, the processes she learned with other instructors. That opens her mind to accept new methods. And that, in the long run, allows her to grow as a student. (I think it’s best for students to examine a number of ways to get things done, then choose the method that best fits his or her comfort level and ideas.) Megan may end up being the better woodworker of the Popular Woodworking staff because she’ll be able to take three different methods of work (one from each editor) and apply the ones that work best for her…¦then pitch the rest.
If things go well over the next few weeks, I’ll keep you posted on our progress. If things don’t go so well, I expect you’ll hear about it from Megan. Maybe this should be titled, “Wish Me Luck.”