In case you have never met me, or haven’t taken a class from me, allow me to explain that I use HUMOR to teach.
I tell jokes. I make fun of a lot of things in my classes including myself and sometimes – if a student is up for it (and only if a student is up for it) I will include them in the joke and poke fun at them, too.
In this case apparently a woman who I had shepherded – spending a lot of extra time with her – through three of the four classes, became upset after the forth class. This same student made a point of telling me after Saturday’s classes how grateful she was that I’d taken so much extra time with her during the classes that day.
On Sunday, in the last 17 minutes of class, I was firm with this student (and a few others) because she – they – needed to be told, firmly, that they COULD do a seemingly complex technique and it was important that I get their hands to move in the correct way at least once so they could go home with the muscle memory.
I was not mean, I did not yell, but I was firm.
Yes, sometimes I push students in a class, and sometimes I back off. If students talk in class, I ask them to be quiet. If students rip out, I ask them not to again. If students insist that they can’t do something, I try several different ways (prodding, joking, pushing, pulling) to get them to a place where they can see that they will eventually get the concept.
If you don’t want to grow, don’t take a class with me. I will make you a better knitter – a more intuitive knitter – but I may push you.
As with any teacher, I may not suit every student. Luckily, you have my blog to get a taste for my sense of humor and my teaching style before you take a class with me.
This class in KC was one of the hardest to “read” in my teaching career. I think I’ve only had two other classes in my life that were this difficult to read. Folks who I felt were having a horrid time told me later they had a blast, and folks I thought had a blast emailed me later that they were sorry they took the class. Go figure. I rarely have such a hard time “reading” classes like this, but it’s all part of the learning curve that teachers go through, too.
I try to read different classes so I have an idea of how far I can go with certain jokes, and in this case apparently my jokes (which were so mild compared to my usual ‘material’) were too much for some students.
The email that had upset me so greatly yesterday – and, for whatever reason, it just skinned me from the inside out – was from someone who I had been very supportive of in class. Then she sent me an email that I wouldn’t have sent my worst enemy. Some days you just can’t win.
At certain times in certain classes I joke – yes JOKE – about “Class isn’t really fun unless I get one person to cry, that’s all I ask …”
I have found that jokes like this are a good way to get people to laugh. They laugh because it’s absurd, because it’s not true. They laugh because I deliver it in a “Doctor Evil” voice.
They know it’s not true, so it’s funny.
I told this same joke in each class this weekend and guess what? People laughed. A lot.
Are we going to politically correct ourselves out of having ANY fun? Will I have to start saying in class, “Lighten up or I’ll hit you with my knitting needle!?”
Oh, that was a joke…
To hear such an absurd comment – a joke – and think that it is in any way SERIOUS shows a want of perspective.
What seems to have happened was that a student was offended because I was firm with her, and she was even more upset because I was firm with the student next to her. So after stewing about it she used the fact that I’d joked about students crying to write me an email which was one of the cruelest I’ve received, insinuating that I really DID want to make my students cry.
Now THAT was an email that was definitely sent with the intention of making someone cry.
Ellen wrote: “What if it is that you are just so worn to the nub that an email you might have let slide off your back a year and a half ago has given you a worse time than it typically would?”
That’s definitely a possibility. This was pretty raw, though.