In front of an audience.

Because of a serendipitous confluence of circumstances at the Community Center, I have found myself in charge of leading this semester’s Intermediate/Advanced Wheel class. At first I was only on the list as an alternate if one of the other teachers couldn’t do it – but then not just one, but three teachers who had said they could do it, suddenly couldn’t. I knew when to bow to a higher power. I accepted the position.

And now I find myself somewhat stranded and somewhat nervous. It’s not that I don’t know what to teach. I have loads of useful information, tons of little details, tips, ideas, etc. that I could put into lesson plans. The only thing is, I don’t really know how.

It’s utterly different from teaching Spanish. First, in teaching pottery there is no way to hide your mistake or trust in beginner’s ignorance to let it slip past unnoticed: if you mess up, your mistake is right there, wobbling in unsightly, misformed lumps for everyone to see.

Second, while I was able to break Spanish down into neat little memorizeable grids of verb conjugations and gender permutations, I lack the ability to communicate about pottery. Having never taken a class, I only know how the clay feels under my hands, and how to make it do the right thing: you move your hands like so, and the clay just does what it’s told. Except that I know it wasn’t always that way for me, so I must search for a way to communicate proper techniques to those who have not found them yet. But having never taken a class myself, I find it near impossible to articulate the motions – and the knowledge of the way clay has to behave – that have become habit to me. Imagine – okay, this is a huge exaggeration, and it makes me sound like an arrogant prick too, but try to see what I mean – imagine explaining how it feels to walk, to a man born without legs.

Snort. I think I’m blowing it out of all proportion. Most of the people in the class have been throwing for a quite a while. They’re good. I should just thank my lucky stars that I’m not in charge of the beginners, because that would just result in frustration for both of us.

The second, and much more interesting problem, is how to organize the class. What do I teach? What do they want to learn? What kinds of forms? I’m planning on spending the first day of class as a kind of brainstorming session – heck, might as well make them do some of the work! (-grin-) – but it’s still necessary to my OCD soul to show up with some kind of syllabus-ish thing. So the contents of such will probably be occupying my thoughts for the next several days. Prepare yourself: a second self-absorbed, utterly cerami-centric blog posting is on its way, I feel it in my bones. -grin-

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