This will be the last session of an eight weeks course that was extended to a second term. Last week we had an examination and I was astonished to see that students were having difficulties getting past question 1. “It’s really hard!” they said, referring to the first stroke that was taught in Session 1.
This week we will go over their difficulties and those who want holiday homework will be given some exercises to help them move on.
After the holidays I will be offering an introductory course for new beginners. All the existing students declared their intentions to re-enrol next term. I have warned them that we are going back to square one and they seemed pleased about that. I am pleased about it too.
Although I have repeated it endless times during the past 16 weeks, I will again try to impress upon the students that seeing is everything, or at least, the first and most important thing. Tomorrow we will concentrate on ‘reading’ the strokes correctly to prepare for their execution.
It is simple: one needs to see where a stroke begins and ends and note all the variations in between. Of course one must learn how to master the brush to produce these effects and we did that in Session One. The fact is only two of the students started in Session One and others had dropped in between Session Four and Session Nine. The late comers all came with skills but it seems that those skills were of little help and at times, some hindrance.
It’s like learning a cursive script and expect that to be a help with a gothic script. Yes, the discipline is the same but it requires students to let go of what they’d learnt previously and make room for new skills and information. After two terms of struggling against it I think they have finally accepted that we must go back to basics.
The work they have produced thus far is commendable but I think they know that they are capable of much improvement. As a teacher of beginners, I can only arm them with the tools and their proper use. It will be up to them to make something of it: I can teach them how to swing a hammer but I can’t help it if they end up hitting their thumbs.