In the coming week, I’ll be teaching. Twice.
And I don’t consider myself a teacher.
When Joseph was born more than 13 years ago, I became aware of an organisation called Parents as First Teachers.
They were a group focused on supporting families in educating their babies and toddlers through play. I loved their mission, and I loved their name. It spoke to me of a truth that I hadn’t ever verbalised before:
We are all teachers.
I have had some great teachers in my life, and I call them mentors. As a younger person especially, I didn’t know that was what they were. They were people who I loved and respected in equal parts, and for that reason I listened to what they had to say.
They taught me things I didn’t learn at school, and they taught me because they believed in me and could see what I needed to know from a perspective I didn’t yet have. They changed my life in dramatic ways.
My current mentor started out as my pottery teacher. We began by only knowing each other’s names, and now five years later, we share not only a steady stream of maddening technical pottery issues, but she challenges me to be a better human. It’s a relationship that enriches me untold because it is honest, and it keeps me growing in the right direction.
Consciously or not, given that we are social beings, we also actively teach. At home, work, or socially, we teach others through our actions and words in tiny ad-hoc ways and in big.
I’ve taught a lot of children about clay in the boy’s schools, just by giving them the opportunity to touch and make things themselves. I’ve shown people how to spin, crochet and knit. It’s not because I rate my skills, or that I’m a subject-matter-expert. It’s because people want the opportunity to learn, and if they ask, I’m happy to offer what I can.
This week I’ll morph from Potter/Mother, to Teacher for a couple of workshops. And despite not having a teaching qualification, I guarantee I’ll do my utmost to impart every joy and useful bit of information to enrich the lives of my willing and eager students.
Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column by Taranaki artist Marita Green. You can follow Marita and her creations on Instagram.