“CHASING” FEAR: Teaching and Learning IN THE MOMENT

40 minutes worth of fun work. Who says our youth can’t pay attention? 🙂

Expectations can be a tricky thing to juggle.  There are expectations we place on an event or situation.  There are certainly expectations put upon us by our life and career responsibilities and work/social cultures.  Then there are the expectations we place on ourselves.  Knowledge is power, but worrying about what other people think too much can zap the power source of creativity.  I admit that I sometimes have worried about creativity so much that it can’t exist.

     I have limited experience in the art of chasing & repousse.  I have done a few projects, guided and unguided, in the past.  I recently took a workshop with Dan Neville, and I have done beginning experiments in leaves, turtles, butterflies, etc. with Bob Krautheim.   Despite my lack of expertise in this specific area, I embarked on a demo at the Ann Arbor Art Fair for Michigan Silversmiths Guild.   Why did I choose this demo?  I needed something that was easy to set up and I really wanted  audience participation built in.   I thank Bob Krautheim for working with me to make and temper some inexpensive tools for the kids to use.  I prepared 20 pieces of copper approx. 2″x2″ and glued several line art designs to choose from.  I used some untempered steel blocks with leather underneath so we could have 3 at a time working.
     During the 3 hour demo session, I had numerous people stop in for a few moments to watch and ask questions. A few adults took a tool and hammer in their hands and at least experienced the metal move for a few strikes, a line or a curve.  Most of them were too reserved.  My anxiety went down 10 minutes after I began, as I explained to them that I am no expert and can be very clutsy, but I am enjoying my attempts.  That made a difference for a few.
     The children were varying degrees of a lot more willingness to touch and try.  One girl was very frustrated by finding a way to hold, strike and move the chisel to connect her strikes.  We alternated me holding and moving while she struck, and then switched until she got the hang of trying to keep a continuous line while lightly hammering. The smile on her face when she finally felt some success was powerful.  She left with her piece partially done, but with a cement nail as a starter kit to finishing it at home.  Another 7 year old girl (see picture) stayed at the table for 40 minutes until she had fully traced her design.  We cut out around it and drilled a hole for a jump ring for a necklace.  Her dad promised to help her file the edges a bit more.  I have little doubt that she will do more designs, since her dad does large structure metal work and can help with tools.  One of the grandmothers even took notes on the gauge of metal and where she could buy some to try at a later time as a family activity.
     The experience flew by and was a blessing.  I was lifted up as an educator, and will vow to transfer as many observations from this experience as possible to my teaching of choir, voice, piano, computers, and public speaking this school year.  Back to expectations.  Expecting nothing is as bad as expecting too much.  DO expect to learn, but don’t predict what you will learn and when you will learn it.
     Lessons learned from my demo:  Teachers will find a way to change, learn and grow on the spot to help their students…You don’t have to be an expert to offer a valuable learning or creative experience…and the biggest lesson:  Enjoy the process.
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