15 February 2008

How I am with students, Part 1

Part 1 might also be the last part, but it seems unfinished.

I have never made a list of students. It wouldn't be impossible, it's just that I've told some that if it didn't work out, I'd never make a deal of it, it would just fade away quietly. So I don't even have a list, because lists don't fade.

Once when I was naming them off, I forgot Liobsynde, in Dragonsspine, but it's partly because she never asked to my student, and I never asked to be her teacher. Someone else wanted to be her teacher, and asked me to be a co-teacher, a partner, because Liobsynde and I were both musicians. I was not nearby, and Liobsynde was a Laurel before too long. I did take donations to put toward a nice wooden music stand for her, but I wasn't around near enough to be much of a mentor.

With others more local, though, I've had mixed experiences. My lack of patience shows sometimes. My eagerness to help sometimes trips them up when what they really wanted was an excuse not to do something, and if I fix the problem and the excuse is gone, I haven't really shown them the kind of slack understanding they wanted. When I see the slack understanding some other people give to their folk (Artan with his squires, and Martino with his sometimes), I think they're doing much better than I am.

Likely, though, one of the major differences between squire-to-Knight and student/protege to Pelican is that part of the business of service is doing what needs to be done in an efficient and energetic manner. Reliability and sacrifice are not unreasonable expectations.

I praise my students and I like to do that, and when one slips from being praiseworthy, it's very noticeable to me. If I were a stoic non-mushy kind of person, it might not matter.

Some of my students have been more toward the Laurel end of the spectrum. If anyone reads this from a kingdom in which one person might be a squire and and apprentice and a protege to three different people, this will seem an oddity. Here, though, in the Outlands, and in my life for sure, any student of mine is likely to be expected to do all that he or she can do in any field in which there's interest. And a few have been combat-involved, too, and just as I've helped their squires, Gunwaldt and Artan have helped my students.

Back to the Laurel-apprentice types, though, with them my concern is that they move toward knowing and caring what's period. I would much rather a student do a period song, cook a period dish, or make a period garment in a fair way than to do a BANG-up, stunning technical job on something out of period. Not everyone agrees with that stance. I would rather people do what's good and right than to settle for the minimum of what they have to do. Some haven't liked my expectations, and some have left.

I have let some students go, and it's never been a sweet moment in either of our lives. When I've thought the behavior of someone was risking harm to others around her (children, in most cases) or when there was dishonesty or cruelty involved, they can either change or they can leave. I've not found a way around that.

Artan used a phrase once of someone who asked to be my student, and seemed to have questionable motives. Sometimes questionable motives can be overcome, but Artan said "She just wants to be baptized in the river AElflaed."

It's been years, but I saw what he meant and I've since seen it in other people in various combinations of situations (not all involving me). Some people can't or don't want to change, but they think if they associate themselves with a reputation for morality and integrity, that they will be assumed to be moral and mindful by being part of that group or household.

In at least one case there seemed an element of "AElflaed is a stickler for truthfulness, and I'm her student; therefore I must be truthful." That's fine in the cases of people who are truthful.

One student left because of pressure from my critics. I had suspected as much, and a few years later she confirmed it. Other students have received insult and criticism in hopes that a wedge would be driven between them and me, or that they would come to doubt me. I regret that it has happened, and new students are always warned.

I've had many temporary or kind-of students—no oath, no long-term commitment, but a situational arrangement, or a "Can you talk to my squire, please?" daylong or weekend or month-long deal. I always enjoy those.

I'm not methodical. There's not an outline or a notebook or a checklist. There's living life where I can watch and assist, and there's sometimes helping me with things I never knew were going to come up. Some people like that, and for some it seems awful.

The best learning, from my point of view, is when someone hears something I say or reads something I wrote just at the moment he needed that piece of his own life's puzzle and it fit easily and quickly and became the catalyst for growth and more awareness. I don't even need to meet the people for whom that has happened. Sometimes I hear about it, and probably more often I don't. Sometimes it's close and in person and sometimes it's thousands of miles or tens of years away.

1 comment:

Sandra Dodd said...

I notice this entry is kinda boring without photos, but the best photos of my favorite students often include people who were once and not always my students.