What did you do with your weekend? I used mine to pass on some specialist skills.
As I no longer work, weekends sort of lose their urgency, but I can still appreciate the attraction and enjoyment for those who are still working. For me, a Saturday is pretty much the same as a Tuesday, except the roads are quieter…
Recently I spent both Saturday and Sunday giving Silver Casting classes to two groups of 8 people. I am a member of a not-for-profit club. We have a small membership of around 50-60 people, of a variety of ages, from 13 to 80+. As a club, we not only offer our classes to members, but also non-members, for a small fee. It is affordable for the wider community, and is a great introduction to new skills, not to mention an opportunity to meet new people.It also introduces more people to the club, who might become members. Here is our very simple classroom, set up for Silver Casting. I think the desks are about as old as me, but still very functional, Waste not, want not!
So why am I bothering to write a blog post about this? What is of wider interest?
For many years, I would have loved to try my hand at silver-making skills. I never found one. I obviously didn’t look in the right place. However I suspect that these opportunities are now more available, with the advent of modern technology, the internet, email, facebook etc.
I grew up in a small community in Northern Ireland. If there was something in the vicinity, I certainly missed it. I wasn’t even aware of evening classes but they must have been available. With the internet, word spreads so easily. A quick online search shows opportunities in your immediate area. YouTube will provide you videos on just about anything. A few months I used YouTube to fix the colour on my iPad, my husband found out how to replace a mirror on the car.
As a manager running a variety of teams over the years, I had responsibility for coaching and encouraging my team members. It is quite good to be able to use those skills again. Some of the questions I get are interesting, and challenge me. At other times I get frustrated, and I remember why I am quite glad that I no longer work. There is an element of stress involved because I want to make sure everyone has a good workshop, but sometimes I really struggle with being patient. Not everyone learns at the same pace!
It is also really satisfying to send people off with finished pieces at the end of the session, happy with their day and with a sense of achievement.
Here are a couple of pictures of the sort of casting I teach. It is really good fun. The torch gives a flame 6 inches long! See bottom left – the original and the silver ‘clone’.
For a few hours of my time, and a small cash outlay, 16 people have had an interesting day and learnt a new skill. Over the last couple of years I have run these classes twice a year. Several of my students have enjoyed it so much that they are now my ‘helpers’ and indeed will probably run the next class themselves. It now means that my club is not dependent on me to run the class. Hence even when I am lying on a beach somewhere, (I like to dream!), they can run a Silver Casting class.
Each weekend brings in about 2 weeks rent for the club and I run 2-3 in a year. So I feel my contributions effectively cover the rent for at least 1 month. Given our rent is significant, and it is by far the largest cost the club has, this is a real benefit, for our ‘not for profit’ organisation. It also keeps the annual subscription down….
Other people in the club run classes in enamelling, jewellery making, beading, lapidary, Definitely a club run by members for members!
Passing on skills to all ages
Most of us, young and old, have skills that we can pass on. Those might be money, personal, sports, cookery or, metal work skills. It really doesn’t matter. The key thing is that we pass on the knowledge. Knowledge is one of those things that grows exponentially as you pass it on. It is best shared, not kept to oneself. Over the past 4 years, I have probably taught more than 100 people. As mentioned above, some of those people are now passing on the same skills, enhanced by their experiences.
Knowledge is good, both for the learner, and also the teacher. It enriches you. I’m sure we all know someone who knows how to do something, but who doesn’t tell anyone. Do we respect them more because of that.? I doubt it, I certainly don’t!
A retired friend assists young children in a school near his house with their reading. Another friend – a retired banker runs money classes at his local school.
Swapping skills work well too. If you can cook, and your friend sews well, why don’t you catch up once a week, and alternate between teaching one skill, and learning the other. In the past, a few friends and myself have alternated between each others houses, bringing our beading stuff and working on jewellery together. It’s good fun, the person hosting provides tea and cakes. We all have a good chat and put the world to rights as we work.
So the question is – what are you good at? How can you pass that skill on? Take any opportunity you can.
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