Author Topic: Beginner workshop  (Read 1949 times)

MatsuBonsai

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Beginner workshop
« on: June 11, 2012, 12:23 PM »
I got suckered, I mean asked to help lead the beginner workshop last weekend. I was told we had 5 confirmed plus maybe three more. A total of 18 showed, with 5 of us on hand to help run the show.

It seems our club is always caught off guard as to the number that show up, what to teach, how to proceed etc.

I'm wondering if other groups have had similar experience. Why have you found useful?  What do you feel are tips and tricks for running a successful beginner workshop?
 

Owen Reich

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2012, 08:46 AM »
Nobody else has said anything, so this is my opinion.  I've been on both sides of the coin as student of a beginner class and a teacher.  I've also scheduled a free workshop, had a few confirms, then had 20 people show.  So, I think you should have confirmed slots and a limit to the number of students.  Otherwise, the quality of instruction goes down. 

I think a good beginner class should have a tree the student takes home with instructions on how to care for the tree for at least the current season.  I personally think a series of classes would be better.  There's a lot to cover for someone new in a few hours. 

A well written intro packet that students could read before the class would be ideal.  That way there's not as many people with 20 questions.  Helpers (maybe one for every 3-4 students) was effective at keeping people looked after and things during the last one i did.  This way, the main instructor can keep on-program while stragglers are kept going by the helpers. 
 

Tim Gardner

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2012, 04:00 PM »
I strongly agree with Owen. I think a series of classes would be best too. I have had the same experience, and I think the serious beginner has one important question. What do I do to the tree next, and when? I helped with beginner classes and we generally would only take eight people. Eight students usually worked well with one teacher and assistant. The class would last from 10:00am till 5:00pm. A morning lecture was the first part, with a demo on how to repot. The second half was the students working on their tree.
 

Elliott

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2012, 05:07 PM »
My club that I'm VP of, has a beginners workshop a couple of hours before our meeting once a month. My issue is that  the person teaching the class has absolutely no clue on bonsai and they are giving some god awful advice. I think this is worse that not having a class at all, as unlearning bad habits is harder than a fresh start.
 But what can I do? I have to work, so I can't come in and babysit him. I can't just go to the board and say this guy sucks, all in favor? Fortunately, he is not getting many student's and I end up correcting mistakes when I show up for the meeting.
 What happens with beginners is real important. You can make or break someone. If they show up with a tree and you chop it back to a bare trunk, they may never let anyone talk them into removing a branch again! it's a big responsibility to to the right thing with a newbies material, but also make them feel comfortable.
 To many basics are not taught, like proper wiring, pruning, making pads of foilage, re potting, etc. it's definitely a frustrating topic!

 

Tim Gardner

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2012, 08:16 PM »
Yes John, you are right! You would for sure come across as arrogant to the board, even though your not! All that I can think of is to address the board with you teaching the class as your shcedule permits (twice per year). Maybe you could do an "Intro To Bonsai" and teach it in a way that class two refers back to class one, and class three could be a review of the first two with more info. If you could turn the "beginner class" into that, maybe it could work. For the most part one guy can't say this, and the other guy say that. The beginners will get confused and not know what to do, in my opinion. I agree with you, if you frustrate them from the start, they are likely to quit/give up and we don't want that. I think the biggest thing is not to frustrate yourself with this, and the main thing... keep it fun for all of them!
 

tmmason10

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2012, 09:27 PM »
What Owen said sounds exactly like what they do at NE Bonsai. I've been to their beginner class and it was a good introduction, though I killed the tree I took home...
 

bigDave

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 10:29 AM »
  What do you feel are tips and tricks for running a successful beginner workshop?

Hi John and guys,

The idea of teaching a beginners class is always exciting to me.  I have had the pleasure of introducing over 800 folks to our good art.

Based on  the GSBF bonsai basics ideas we put together a 3 part class with lecture and workshop for each.  I am pleased to share with you, if you want to use these materials.

There is a  powerpoint//Impress set of slides for each lesson and corresponding docs for a handout that you can give your students.  email bigdave@bonsaiartisans.com 

Or I have put the lectures on youtube, you could play them for your student then do the workshop.
search... Bonsai Artisans:bonsai basics

YOU are all free to use these for any and all purposes you wish with no rights reserved,

good luck mine amigos...

big D



 

Adair M

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Re: Beginner workshop
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 11:46 AM »
Matsu,

Way back in the day, I took a series of beginner classes.  I had to pay a fee, plus pay for the tree and pot I took home.

The series was an evening each week, one on each of they styles, Formal Upright, Informal Upright, slant, Cascade, Semi-Cascade, Windswept and Forrest.  All were using Juniper, except the forrest, which was deciduous, if memory serves.  (It was a long time ago.)

It's been over 30 years ago... I'm trying to remember... but there MAY have been an introductary class, that was more of a lecture.  We were shown the styles (and example trees), and the basic "rules" of each, and we were taught how to wire.  Using branches that had been pruned off. We were all given some branches, and wire, and we practiced wiring on branches.   And bending, so we all got to find out how much we could bend before we broke branches!  I think we were also taught how to prune, as a part of learning how to use concave cutters, etc.  I think he did this, because everyone was required to have their own tools/wire for the workshop, so the intro was a way they could see if this was something they would like to do before laying out the money buying the tools, etc.  He had starter sets of Masakuni tools for sale.  I still have some of those tools.

So, at the end of the first "lesson" I didn't walk out with a tree, but I had a set of Masakuni tools, some wire, a handout describing the styles, and prickly hands from having wired a bunch of juniper branches.  He also gave us estimates on how much pots and trees would cost for our future workshops. 

The class was taught by David Cook at The Garden Source in Atlanta back in the fall of 1976.