I have been following a debate on what it means to be a self taught beader vs a beader who has taken classes. The debate was along the lines of: is a beader who has taken classes better than one who never did? Just what is the distinction between the two? Or is there one? How do you even define “self taught”? Does learning from printed materials count, or does being self-taught mean you need to discover everything on your own with no outside help?
This whole debate is to the point of such total craziness I cannot believe it. It amazes me that this should come up in any fashion, let alone debated ad nauseam as to what the merits of one over the other are. What people will argue about never ceases to amaze me. I really hate to say this, especially of my own gender, but this is such female pettiness! I cannot imagine guys standing around a barbeque and arguing, “Hey Joe, what do you think of Sam building that train model? Can you believe he never had a class on how to build one? And now he wants to enter the competition with the rest of us who have taken workshops! Just who does he think he is, anyways?” Nah…won’t happen. Guys aren’t prone to such hissy fits over what amounts to nothing.
Let’s get this straight. Beadwork is not something that will cause someone to lose their life if done “incorrectly” (as if that were possible to begin with), it will not cause national economic hardship, family ties to be lost, mass destruction, a world wide epidemic, houses to crumble or any other disaster natural or otherwise. Beading is not a life or death proposition in any way. For most beaders, beading is just a friggen hobby!
If you sell beadwork, do you think a customer who is considering buying a piece of beadwork will ask, “Was this made by someone who is self taught or has she taken classes?” Not on your life! Who out there thinks that a piece of beadwork made better by someone has taken a class? Is a piece of beadwork in any way shape or fashion even discernable from self taught or classroom learned techniques?
I was a “self taught” beader for many years before I finally took my first beading class. The benefit of the class was that I did not have to struggle with book or directions in hand to teach myself. It was a short cut. And the social interaction made it all the more fun. Did it make me better at the technique? No not really. I might have picked up a point, or a short cut that would have been difficult to describe in printed words and diagrams. But that doesn’t make me better than someone who learned only from the handouts given in class.
Whether or not someone takes a class might be because of several factors. Perhaps good classes are not offered in the immediate area , and traveling to the nearest class is just to darn expensive. Even if a class is offered nearby, the class still might be too expensive. Maybe the classes are offered during times when you are working, or have other reasons why you cannot attend.
Will taking a class from Ms Favorite Bead Artist of the Year make you a better beader?
If you do attend her class, is that any sort of guarantee that you will learn anything? Need I remind you of when you were in school, be it High School or College, of the lousy teachers you might have had? Even though a teacher is really respected in his field, he might even have been the guru of the subject he taught. He might not have had good teaching skills. So it is with bead teachers. Some are exceptional artists, but that does not mean that they are good teachers. If they were not good teachers, and you taught yourself strictly from the handouts, or from figuring it out mostly on your own, what does that make you? Self taught or class taught? Being self taught or class taught makes no difference. Neither is better than the other. Only different.
As a teacher, I would love everyone to take a class (especially from me). It keeps classes going. Classes help to keep those of us who wish to earn money from our art “employed”. But I see nothing wrong with those of you who take the books, patterns, and articles we wrote and teach yourself from those items. That was the intent we had (at least I speak for myself) when we wrote those directions. That is a testament to our writing ability and diagram drawing ability if you are able to “teach yourself” from our instructions. Have you ever tried to write instructions? Believe me, it is NOT easy!
Those who know me, and have taken classes from me know that my class mantra is always “How ever it works for YOU is the right way. My way is NOT the ONLY way.” I am only a guide when I teach, I hope to help my students to find the method that works best for them.
We cannot always choose to attend the best classes. Those classes may be out of our reach for a variety of reasons. What we can chose, however, is our enjoyment of the art of beadwork, whether as a hobby or a “profession”. And we can chose to ignore worthless arguments such as this that have no worthwhile basis for debate. There is nothing to be gained by debating such a petty concept and certainly not much to learn from.
Perhaps even my mere momentary attention to this debate here on my own blog is not worth the post, and has….well…..you know…..no class.