I really enjoy teaching. When someone told me the other day that they were frightened to even try and admired me for doing it, I simply said: “Teaching is just showing others how to do what you already know how to do. That isn’t scary.”
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you will have seen that I was teaching children to make gel prints last month. The opportunity to do this was presented to me through one of the many art groups I belong to. I was amazed and saddened to hear that I was the only person from that group who agreed to get involved. Are all the other members uncomfortable teaching kids? Maybe.
When you teach children you don’t do it for that money, so maybe that is another factor in considering why no one else wanted to get involved. I don’t even cover my costs teaching these types of classes so why do I do it?
There are a few reasons. Firstly, as I said before, I love teaching. I love to see the wonder on people’s faces when they achieve something that they didn’t realise was possible or that they were capable of. A few years ago I had a student, an older woman, who literally squealed when she was able to produce a resin pour she had asked me to show her. It was so rewarding for both of us.
Also, my two sons were once small. This is hard to believe when they are both now over 6’4” but finding fun things to do with the children over the summer holidays which doesn’t cost an arm and a leg would have been fantastic. Now more than ever with people feeling the pinch, both parents having to work to pay the bills and grandma and grandad being left to look after the children, I knew I had to keep the costs down for them.
The most important thing to me, however, is inspiring children and adults to make. Be that painting, printing, journal making or any other arts and crafts activity out there. With the ongoing cuts in arts funding, it is I believe even more important that people like me give back to society by sharing the skills and knowledge we have before they are lost. And no, I don’t think I am being dramatic. I know that many secondary schools have cut their arts programmes out of their curriculum completely and I know students who want to take art as part of the GCSE or A level qualifications are having to travel to other schools or to people like me to get the education they so desperately want to have.
If we don’t teach children in secondary schools now, will it be junior schools who start to do the same next? It is madness to cut arts programs. The mental health and well-being of every member of our society can be vastly improved by engaging in activities which involve using our hands. The list of things we can do is huge, art obviously, but in that is painting, drawing, printmaking, including monoprinting, screen printing, collotype printing, copper plate etching, aluminium plate etching, stone lithography, illustration, sculpting, knitting, crochet, tapestry, embroidery, lace making, weaving, sewing, gardening, photography, pottery, fashion design, costume design and making, flower arranging oh the list goes on and on and on.
However there is medical and scientific proof that engaging in some form of creativity is hugely beneficial and if you want to understand more simply read up about how Andrew Marr, the broadcaster made such an amazing recovery from a stroke, by spending time drawing.
I am prepared to be part of the silent march to ensure that people, adults and children alike, are exposed to the joy of making art.
And before you ask, I really don’t make any money doing this.
The paint, paint and gel plates don’t come cheap. The venue I have been teaching children at this summer is a 45-minute drive away and I charge £5 per half hour. Over two days I had 14 students, two staying for an hour, so they paid £10 each and they were older children. Most were between 3-7 years old and half an hour was enough for them. But I had fun, I met some really lovely people, I had one lady ask about taking classes with me and the people running the site were fabulous. I am so delighted to have been able to take part.
The classes were held at Dapdune Wharf in Guildford, which is run by the National Trust. Katherine, the manager, not only provided a huge amount of support getting water and moving tables in the rain, but she was also a joy to spend time with. Every summer there are additional events put on for children which is well worth visiting. The National Trust website details all the events taking place throughout the year at this location and I am looking forward to taking part in a couple of the events later this year.
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