teaching-msg - 9/9/09
Teaching in the SCA and in persona.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: patmcg at home.merit.edu (Pat McGregor)
Date: 19 Sep 91 18:32:27 GMT
Organization: U of Michigan, ITD Research Systems
pears at latcs1.lat.oz.au (Arnold N Pears) writes:
>My real area of expertise is Armouring, and I have noticed a trend
>in instruction and students which expects the teacher to do much of the
>Eg. You make the patterns and supply the equipment and people
>come and get you to help with all the hard bits.
>This is not real learning. You have to stand on your own two feet
>and do your own research, draft your own patterns.
>Struggle with the materials to make them yield to your will.
When I undertake to teach someone who has never done any costuming, but who
can sew seams, the first item or two of clothing we make is made from a pattern I make, but I try and teach them how I go about drafting it. I don't expect a
novice to be able to jump right in and draft patterns -- I've been sewing now for
over 25 years, and it's only in the last 8 or 9 that I have come to be able
to draft the patterns I do know how to do -- but I expect to be able to teach this
person to draft patterns, or use those patterns which are available from
SCA merchants, after they get comfortable with the basic techniques, some ideas
about what period clothing was like, etc. If the student is willing to do some
research on trim, fabric, etc, instead of point and choose out of a
costume book, I've found a treasure!
Similarly with cooking, I take people in who have no idea how to deal
with a kitchen, and try to get them started. I have one student right now
who has turned into an excellent cook, can deal with quantity (and who has,
in fact, taught me an excellent method for figuring out mass quantities
of things), and is unflappable in the kitchen. As soon as I get it through
to her that we need to do research on recipes, and you can't just pick up
a modern cookbook and play it by ear, I'll feel like a real success. But she's
learned so much already, if she never actually makes that last hurtle,
it will still have been worth it. She's an excellent partner in the kitchen,
and much more willing to do some of the drudge work than I am!
My point is this: take people at the levels where you find them, and then
see where they can go. If the good people who taught me had not been willing
to help me with materials at the outset (and I'm a dreadfully slow learner
at some things, as people here can attest), I wouldn't have been able to make
any progress at all.
And I don't think this has much at all to do with being a peer -- more
to do with being a good instructor, and someone willing to share his or
I remain, in service,
siobhan medhbh o'roarke Pat McGregor
Shire Cynnabar/Midrealm 3638 Greenook Blvd
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Internet: SMOR at um.cc.umich.edu
BITNET: UserW02v at umichum
From: fnklshtn at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU
Subject: Re: History classes (was Re: Mongols)
Date: 21 Jan 94 19:24:18 GMT
Organization: New York University, NY, NY
ae766 at yfn.ysu.edu (David Sanders) writes:
>In a previous article, fnklshtn at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU () says:
>>Seems to me, if someone has the knowledge to teach the usual, run of the mill,
>>boring (tm) history class, that person has the knowledge to teach in persona.
>>All that's required is a bit of effort.
>In theory I agree with you. From personal experience I must say that it does
>not always work that way. One Pennsic I attempted to teach a class on the
>history and spread of paper and papermaking one Pennsic. The information was
>there, but I'm afraid that after my own evaluation of the course I came to
>the conclusion that it was BORING! I have done some teaching, and had some
>good classes, but not only was that particular class boring, but I think it
>would have been much worse if I had tried to do it in-persona.
>Vajk (still interested in paper, but hesitant to try TEACHING it again!)
>ae766 at yfn.ysu.edu
Before my answer, a disclaimer.
I have noticed that my comments may sometimes come off as offensive when I do
not mean to come off sounding that way.
I do not in any way mean to question whether your experience is valid.
I think we are both searching for ways to improve the experience of all and are
in agreement on all but details (and maybe even on that).
Of course "it does not always work that way". Nothing always works.
It is a great strength to realise that something done - or something that was
planned - will not come off as planned.
Once that is realised, one should try to speak with others and attempt to
develop on the original idea.
I have no idea what paper-making and its history are about. I think, however,
that it may be possible to make the teaching interesting. Perhaps intersperse
history with technique demonstration?
During the summer I work a renn faire as an armourer. Most of the other
aprentices, and my master, aproach the demo as a description of metalurgy and
history (in modern terms). This makes it modern people, describing what used to
be (third person story telling). I make the attempt to take on the character of
a 16th century armourer's aprentice and talk about things in the way I would
have (or think I would have).
When I talk about armour styles, I talk about the types of customers for the
different armours. When they ask why I blow air into the fire, I don't talk
about chemistry and physics of heat treatment, I speak on an elementary,
ignoramus level about heavy elements (earth, water) and light elements (air,
fire) and their interaction in producing stronger steel. When they ask how I
got into this line of work and what do I get for it - I tell them a personna
story (including how stingy the master is with food - a real easy one since I'm
The kids tend to not zone out when I tell it that way and actually learn
something about armouring (and the general state of artisans in the middle
Subject: ANST - Sniping
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 12:47:41 MST
From: "C. L. Ward" <gunnora at bga.com>
To: Ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG
Mistress Xene asked:
>After attending a wonderful King's College, I was wondering what everyone
>else thought of "sniping", that is, attending someone else's class and
>butting in constantly, or the non-instructor taking over the class from the
>How would you as an instructor handle a "sniper"?
It depends. If the person knows what they are talking about, then they
have added to the class.
On the other hand, even if they do know what they are talking about, but
are hostile or are monopolizing the whole class, and certainly if they
don't know what they're talking about I usually say something along the
lines of, "Thank you for your input. I will be glad to discuss this in
more detail with you personally after my class, but for now I have a lot of
material to cover, so please allow me to continue."
I have never had to "shut down" a sniper twice. If they continued butting
in after the first warning, I'd probably be a bit more to the point:
"Mi'lord/Mi'lady, while I'm certain that you have much to add on this
topic, for this particular class time I'd appreciate it if you'd allow *me*
to present the class and just listen for now rather than adding in. You
really should volunteer to teach at the next King's College to present your
One thing to point out is that there are some class situations where people
are EXPECTED to pitch in. Anything labelled a "roundtable" would be an
example: often we have persona roundtables that really DO need and want
back-and-forth discussion among all participants.
>How would you handle the situation if you were a student?
I usually ignore it. Absolutely I ignore it if the instructor is holding
their own and squelching the sniper themselves.
As a peer, if I see that the instructor is being flustered and doesn't know
how to deal with it, especially if the instructor is somewhat new, I will
speak up and tell the heckler: "Excuse me, mi'lord/mi'lady, please allow
our good instructor to continue. He/she has gone to a lot of work to
prepare this class for us, and I for one want to hear what he/she has to
say." I don't do this very often, but when I have it worked instantly.
>Is it different if the sniper is a Laurel? Or a non-laurel, but respected
>in the field?
Yes. Sometimes they are making an extremely valuable contribution, and
generally they won't add in unless the information presented is wrong or
has really left something out.
On the other hand, even the subject expert should not monopolize someone
Gunnora Hallakarva, OL
Baroness to the Court of Ansteorra
Subject: Re: ANST - New Subject - Sniping
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 99 00:14:33 MST
From: AuroraeB at aol.com
To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG
<< After attending a wonderful King's College, I was wondering what everyone
else thought of "sniping", that is, attending someone else's class and
butting in constantly, or the non-instructor taking over the class from the
How would you as an instructor handle a "sniper"? >>
I have taught adults in a non-credit educational setting professionally for
several years, and occasionally I get a "sniper" as you have described.
As a professional, I NEVER let a student take control of a class. I am the
one being paid to teach, and the other students are paying to be taught by
Even in a volunteer setting, I'd really advise against letting somebody take
control of a class. Even if they are more "experienced" in the subject
matter, it is the instructor's class, and their position as the instructor
should be respected.
IMHO, if you feel like they are leaving something very important out that is
either a safety measure or a very integral part of the topic, then butt in.
If it is a safety measure bring it up, if not then maybe asking a question
in the manner of "I heard that..... what do you know about this?" is
appropriate. It takes the heat off the teacher for not including it, and
makes you not come across as such a know it all.
We all are proud of what we know and want to show it off at times, but there
is a time and a place. If you think you truly know more about the topic than
the instructor, then pay polite attention, and plan on teaching an advanced
class on the subject matter at the next college.
I had a class where one lady popped off and had to give her 2 cents on
everything I said one time, and I was not gonna be rude, because it is a job,
but I acknowledged her in the manner if "Hmmm...that's interesting, thanks
for sharing with us" and continues back to the subject matter. After that
happened a few times too many, I said that we were running short on time and
we'd have to hold all questions and comments 'till we were through to make
sure we had enough time to do all we needed to do.
I have also "recruited" a know it all to be my "assistant" before. Keep
their hands busy and they are less likely to pop off at the mouth!
Anyway, if you are an instructor, never let a student take over your class,
it is rude of them to even attempt it and unprofessional of you to allow it.
If they think they can do better, they can teach it next time. And, in a
volunteer situation, if a know it all got aggressive enough, I'd tell them
just that. That if the class is beneath their knowledge level you are sorry
you took up their time and would not be offended if they left and by all
means come back and teach an advanced class on the subject next time.
IMHO, it is more a matter if respect than knowledge. I have sat through
enough "Duh, I knew that" classes myself.
Subject: Re: ANST - Sniping in Classes
Date: Thu, 24 Jun 99 21:00:51 MST
From: "Bob Dewart" <gilli at seacove.net>
To: <ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG>
Handling a "snipper" depends on what kind of class you are teaching. If
it's an open forum, you can make the "snipper" work for you. Ask him
questions that leads into what you want to talk about.
If it's a more structured situation, perhaps with a time limit such as a 55
minute class, you'll want to slam the door on the "snipper" before he gets
started. It's a bit formal, but the following works well. Good morning, Hi
there, greetings or whatever opening you feel comfortable with. A quick
joke to break the ice is optional, but not a bad idea. I'm Lord Watchit and
for about the next 45 minutes I'm going to show you techniques in underwater
basket weaving. I have a lot to show you and not much time. I have saved
10 minutes at the end of the class for you questions and comments. Please
save your questions till then. Alright then...and into the class you go.
What if Lord Wantstoknowitallrightnow asked about something you're going to
cover in about ten minutes? You can say, "That's a good question. Hold
that thought, we'll be there in just a moment." Or perhaps, "That's an
interesting point; however, I hadn't planned on discussing that in this
class. I'll be happy to talk to you about after the class." Then again,
don't be affraid to let a question remind you of a point you forgot to
If it's a longer class, a few side discussion may add to the learning. If
*you* have the time, *you* might allow questions during the discussion. I
would only recommend doing this if time is little or no factor and *you* are
For a beginner instructor, it's important that the students feel like you
know what you're talking about. This can be done by proper preparation.
Know your subject and practice, practice, practice your presentation.
Anyone who wishes help in preparing or how to give a class, please feel free
Instructor, III corps Battle Simulation Center, Fort Hood, TX
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 15:50:03 -0700
From: lilinah at grin.net
Subject: Re: SC - Cooking Classes
Roibeard was not alone when he said:
>I want to teach a few classes on medieval
>classes but don't know where to start (i.e. period foods, spices, methods of
>cooking, etc.). Everytime I think of a topic, I don't see how to best teach
>it in a one or two hour session.
I have never taught Medieval cooking (i'm just learning myself - taking
Scully or Pleyn Delight to bed with me :-) but i have taught both
Indonesian and Southeast Asian cooking classes. I had at least two hours
(it was almost 18 years ago, and i don't remember just how long i had -
might have been three) and each course lasted 10 sessions. I also had a
large kitchen, as the courses were at a city college that regularly offered
cooking classes. I'd never taught before, but i had cooked, so...
I made a basic ten-class outline, what i wanted to start with (the less
unusual foodstuffs and techniques) and worked up to some fairly odd and
complex things. Then i could fill in or move things around as the whole
For each class, i planned a menu for a complete but comparatively simple
meal. I talked *briefly* to introduce the culture of the country or region
from which the food came, the preparing and cooking methods to be used, and
any unusual ingredients. Then several students each took a recipe and made
it. I supervised to make sure things were going along as they should and to
answer any questions. I also helped prepare and cook. Then we all ate the
meal, discussing the process as we ate.
I had at least one class in which we explored a single technique, such as
making sate (often spelled satay in the US) which is an Indonesian/Malay
dish, but often appears under this name on Thai menus, or deep-frying
crispy snack-y things (common throughout in SE Asia), do get folks over the
fear of deep-frying.
For the last class in the Southeast Asian program, i didn't have a single
meal planned; rather, i gave out recipes from a number of different
countries which were very similar -- that is, several recipes for meat slow
cooked in a soy-sauce based sauce, several for different fresh cucumber
"pickles", for a green vegetable, and several unusual sweet drinks. Then we
decided which recipes to do, and we finished with a meal of multicultural
but compatible dishes.
So, there are several possibilities that i can imagine for approaching
teaching a short class:
Simple Complete Meal - If you have a couple hours and access to a decent
kitchen, you could design a simple meal. I would think it best to focus on
one time period and one "country", including the main dishes that would
appear in a meal. You wouldn't want to get to elaborate, as you will likely
have time and space constraints. Pick 3 or 4 recipes that make a nice meal
and have the class share the work. Don't try to do everything yourself.
Single Topic, Several Recipes - If you have access to a kitchen but more
limited time, you could limit your class to a single topic that doesn't
require too many different kinds of equipment, such as sauces or certain
kinds of vegetable dishes. Pick a number of recipes that you can complete
and sample in the allotted time.
History - If you don't have access to a kitchen at all (!!), you could
introduce Medieval cooking by talking about the differences between it and
modern cooking in terms of the attitude of the cooks and consumers of the
foos, the equipment and kitchen set up, what ingredients were used and how
a cook would get them, seasonings, "fish day" and other fast and Lenten
dishes, and resources both in terms of books and where to get unusual
ingredients. In one hour you won't be able to cover all the above topics;
just pick one or two you can cover. For beginners, i'd start with how
attitudes and kitchens and equipment and methods differed, but that's just
off the top of my head - you might have a different perspective.
If you haven't taught cooking before, i would suggest starting with a
"beginner's class: think about the first stuff you learned and how you
would have liked to have begun learning. What would you have wanted to know
for starters? History and culture? Hands-on? How to make a particular kind
It sounds like you have already had some of these ideas, but are sort of
chickening out. Sit down with a piece of paper (or open your favorite word
processor :-) and start jotting notes and/or making an outline. Pick *one*
topic, whatever grabs you, and start inventing a focused class. Keep the
class focused - either on a technique, a type of recipe, one particular
time and place, a featured ingredient, i'm sure you can think of more. Keep
the focus and i bet you can draft a basic class in no time. So what if it
looks too long! Get the "meat", the jist of the topic down - when you're
satisfied you've gotten down what you want on the topic, then go back and
edit to suit your allotted time. Don't start writing with the time in mind
or you'll feel hampered. Get what you want to say on the topic, then go
back and edit.
Anahita Gawri bint-Karim al-hakim al-Fassi
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2008 11:33:58 -0500
From: "Mike C. Baker" <kihebard at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Teaching in the SCA
To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
I have several suggestions related to Ld. David's experience, all of
which I have used / offered previously. NONE of the following is meant
as a criticism; I am only attempting to describe alternative approaches.
1. If you know in advance when a re-occurring event is scheduled, go
ahead and add it to your personal schedule as soon as you have the
date(s) available. (Events with "permanent" event dates, such as "wars"
or reserved dates on kingdom calendars, are simplest for this
strategy...) Decide whether or not you are willing to attend, THEN
whether or not you are willing to teach.
2. Prepare the class or classes you are willing to teach. I have three
"standards" and several more in the status of "I can wing it" or that
otherwise need very little additional work -- and other material that I
can dredge back to the surface from my lifetime in Scouting.
3. Offer the autocrat / course coordinator the courses you most want to
teach *first*, with preliminary details (time, space, student capacity,
any fees or pre-requisites). Be willing to compromise, but only within
you own comfort zone.
3A. If the target event requires substantial travel, also consider
offering to teach at non-event locations on the way to or from the event
and contact "local" A&S leaders in the appropriate branches with a
4. If you are going to attend an event and the format doesn't include
formal classes, you can still offer your material informally.
5. If an event has formal classes scheduled, if you have a class
prepared but are not otherwise scheduled, offer the class coordinator /
autocrat your services as emergency fill-in (for instructors who fail to
appear -- "life happens").
6. Where possible, structure at least one class in your repertoire for
flexibility in terms of time, facility, materials, etc. For example, I
teach a class on the myth and history of Bards -- I've done a version in
less than an hour, and a full session in three, as well as at the
"natural" two-hour length.
7. If the material lends itself to the concept, prepare a children's
version as well as an adult version (or vice versa) -- and consider a
"blended" version that will engage both adults AND children.
Adieu, Amra / ttfn - Mike / Pax ... Kihe
Mike C. Baker
SCA: (al-Sayyid) Amr ibn Majid al-Bakri al-Amra, F.O.B, OSCA
"Other": Reverend Kihe Blackeagle PULC (the DreamSinger Bard)
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2008 14:10:55 -0500
From: Stefan li Rous <StefanliRous at austin.rr.com>
Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Teaching in the SCA
To: SCA-Cooks maillist SCA-Cooks <SCA-Cooks at Ansteorra.org>
<<< Another really important part of being a good student is to arrive at the
class on time. It is seriously annoying to be in the middle of a thought
only to have it disrupted by someone arriving late. The courteous student
will arrive before the scheduled start time, locate a seat and get settled
(pen, paper, whatever to take notes, etc.) before the instructor starts. >>>
Arriving late isn't always the fault of the student. Sometimes the
individual scheduling the event forgets that you need transit time
between classes, even if they are in the same building or in adjacent
tents. Perhaps it is unusual but I'm someone who often will try to
attend three or four classes in a row and I've had many teachers
teach right up to (or past) the time the next class is supposed to
start. Then I find myself scurrying off to that next class hoping I
won't be too late or disruptive.
This is also an advantage of having all classes in one area.
Unfortunately there are other reasons not to, such as the Early
Period Encampment at Gulf Wars being on the other side of the event
from the class tents. Or the Middle Eastern encampment at Pennsic not
being near the class tents. Or the problem with having classes in
If the teacher fails to show up for a class I was planning on
attending, I usually look for an alternate, if I haven't already had
another one in mind that the original beat out. But since it often
isn't clear that the teacher isn't going to show up for five or ten
minutes, changing to another class already means joining it late, and
if I have to cross the camp to get to that other class, impossible.
Another problem recently at Pennsic or maybe it was Gulf Wars, was
even finding out where the private encampment where a class was being
held was located.
THLord Stefan li Rous Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra
Mark S. Harris Austin, Texas