Beth expounds on the Calendar and multiple part classes

@divineutopia, Tracy, @Pcperk

For those of you who are accustomed to the flow of an established multi-class set-up, be that a semester or some other stated terms, the DMS system is going to take a different way of thinking.

You can set up a multi-part class in the Calendar. It’s a one honorarium class, regardless of how many sessions there are. It’s also a big weirdness. Once I had a person sign up on the 2nd class of the 3 part series, not paying attention to any of the spiel I’d put in.

Since we can’t force people to follow the steps you think they should, we’ll have to work with what we get. Sure, it’d be lovely if we could make people take some handbuilding before they start throwing. Although, I’m pretty sure that’s not how I learned. But then, if I remember right, the instructor showed how to throw, and we were supposed to practice. Handbuilding came later in the semester. And while the teacher was around, mostly in his office, if I recall, I learned the most from random experienced students coming by and giving me pointers.

That said, we can request that certain classes be prerequisites. I think that we’ll have to ask the Calendar group to set up AD permissions. That way, if we set 101 as the throwing class, then instructors could set that as a prerequisite, and only people with that class on their list could take the 2nd level class. Another way to do that is to have all students verified by the instructor. We do this in Metal Shop, where traditionally 1 guy would start with the required safety class, and then all the welding classes were by approval. That way he could verify that people were signed up for the safety class before approving them in the welding class. I have sent emails to folks in my welding class who hadn’t read that they were required to have the safety class first.

We could be charging for class supplies. There’s a spot for that in the Calendar. I think explicitly selling people clay is a bad idea. Charging for class supplies is fine, but just letting people buy clay randomly isn’t good. They get clay in the class. We can give them an explicit amount of clay, or not, depending on the teacher. Conor has offered in the past to drop off clay for those who can’t make it to Trinity.

Slight recap – I think we may need to have the Calendar team help us if we want to set up classes as prerequisites. That’d help if we want an intermediate/advanced level. Although, there’s nothing stopping folks from offering those upper level classes to those who have requested them. You’d probably still want to put them on the Calendar to reserve the space, but run the payment through Eventbrite or personal payment, and strictly make them instructor-approval.

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Beth, thank you for continuing this discussion. I felt like I hadn’t expressed my thoughts clearly or completely since I was on the phone.

IMO, from my observations at the Craft Guild and Brookhaven, a class that continues gives a brand new student the confidence that they Can continue and learn the skills needed to complete projects in ceramics. Especially in the area of throwing. The teacher is there. If they get stuck, they can get help immed.

I just think it would be incredibly intimidating to continue on after one class of throwing, alone, trying to figure out how to wedge, and remember the steps of getting their clay on the wheel etc etc.

I was mainly thinking of member and membership retention, that if there is continued support, people would feel more confident, come to practice their skills, improve and Stay- not only in ceramics but at DMS.

Perhaps intro to throwing can be numbered; Throwing 1, Throwing 2, Throwing 3, etc etc. People don’t have to commit to the series. They can resign up for any one of the throwing classes as much as they want. But each class addresses a new technique and has a different teacher demo. You can’t come to Throwing 4 and expect to be taught how to wedge etc, because that is covered in Throwing 1.

The above is a suggestion. I don’t throw and won’t be teaching it. I do know that throwing needs more supervision and teacher support so you can actually master centering and be able to transition to bringing up your walls. If people get frustrated and feel like they’re ‘on their own’, that’s not a good thing for the ceramic committee.

Of course another issue is the availability of teachers; how many members are there who would be willing to teach the introductory and ongoing classes on a regular basis, and more often than once a month? If Throwing 1 was offered one month and Throwing 2 the following month, I think too much time would have elapsed for a person to really learn how to center etc.

I was also thinking that the classes, especially the first ones in the series, would be like baby step classes; Throwing 1: the absolute beginning, wedging (why you wedge) making your balls, turning on your wheel, demos on different ways to center, practice centering, proper cleaning of your wheel, bat etc. Throwing 2: centering, demo on bringing up a wall. Etc. If someone hasn’t mastered Throwing 2, they can keep signing up for it (and coming in to DMS to practice) until they do.

Just suggestions for members to get good foundation teaching and support. I think something like this will make DMS more competitive with other art centers.

I do not think we are a craft guild or academic institution and we cannot support with our volunteers not paid staff this level of hand holding. Mainly because people are not paying significant amounts of tuition towards getting this kind of hand holding. I fear this approach to teaching will burn out the ceramics committee and its teachers. My view is that people at the DMS should expect safety training in/and a basic techniques class. After that point as makers they are responsible for their own motivation and education. That means becoming part of the community and asking questions of others as well as seeking outside sources. I think that is the difference between us and the Craft Guild and Academic institutions. If they need this kind of assistance send them to the Craft Guild or the academic institutions and they can come back, several pennies lighter, when they have their training and want a competitively priced option for continuting their work on their own. I don’t see us as offering the same services as the academic institutions or craft guilds of the world mainly because again tuition we charge 5 or 10 per dollars class they charge hundreds/thousands for a series of classes.

As to frustration with learning new skills, it is part of being a Maker. We all experience frustration and learn to work through it as Makers. That is what makers do when they get out of college or skip college and get right to making. If you cannot do that then your time at DMS is going to be pretty miserable in every area we have.

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Our mission is centered on education, actually.

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Nothing in your quote implies or states that I do not understand that education is at the center of DMS’s mission. My understanding is our not for profit standing rest on education. I think it is disingenuous to imply otherwise.

What I was saying is with a volunteer education department we have limitations that are not present for the Craft Guild and Academic institutions. We simply do not have the same resources financially or man power wise to recreate their curriculums and educational systems. I think attempts to recreate those curriculums and systems are going to burn out volunteers which are the only resources we have available to our education programs. Of course there are the honorariums but that is small pay compared to what the craft guild and academic institutions pay their teachers for the proposed level of work.

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I’m with you @collinrh.
I think the founders chose the education option for the not-for-profit status choice, as it made sense at the time.

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So as someone who basically has gone the route of Throwing 1, 2, and 3, let me give my perspective. It is very possible to do at DMS as separate classes. They weren’t called Throwing 1, 2 , and 3, but that’s essentially what I took. Throwing 2 & 3 were actually project classes. Individual teachers would choose a project and focus on a specific skill (like pulling walls) and teach on that. I have learned sooooooo many skills doing it that way with different teachers that I think it’s important for us to keep doing.

Instead of having set classes called Throwing 1, 2, & 3, maybe have those as designated levels. You have to take Throwing 1 to be allowed to use the wheel when you want, but 2, 3, & 4 are just different project classes where teachers choose a skill to focus on. Throwing 2 could be for beginners, Throwing 3 for intermediate and Throwing 4 for advanced students. The classes could be labeled something like “Throw a Vase (Level 3)” to indicate the class is meant for people who are intermediate or above in their skills. Then people can pick and choose what they’re interested in.

Pre-pandemic there were constant classes where I could practice and learn new skills. During those days I would talk to the individual teacher about the skill level involved and if I could handle the class. I noticed most people don’t do that and in most of my classes we would have at least 1 person that was way out of their league. They didn’t realize it was an intermediate class, so the teacher would have to spend more individual time with that person trying to catch them up as best as they could. There wasn’t much indicating the skill level needed for the class. That’s why I think my suggestion would be helpful rather than a set series of classes.

Thought?

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Even orchestras are listed as examples of educational organizations in 501©(3).

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There seems to be truth in both statements, were not the Craft Guild, our main goal is learning/education.

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I don’t think that the requirement for education is strong. While it’s hard to make a strong case from anything in another group, we were told at one point in the Society for Creative Anachronism (another educational 501c3) that the education we provided to our members was enough fulfill the requirements. I will grant you that the SCA does spend a considerable amount of time educating members, but it’s certainly not the main focus of the group.

So, even though we’re more probably a tool-sharing group, we do provide sufficient education to our members to fulfill the requirement.

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