Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Teaching Conundrum

Hey cake land!

I love teaching!  I also love taking classes and building on my skill sets!  I work hard to preparing classes that I think people would enjoy and take away from.  I also work hard to make the money required to travel to take classes or purchase classes online.

Lately, I've noticed an increase in requests for either free instruction or to have me re-teach a class I took.  Here are a couple of examples of what I am referring to....

As you know, The Cake Tool Company recently launched my DVD, "Timeless Wedding Flowers".  Some people have purchased it, others have commented on the pictures online stating, "you should do a tutorial" or "how did you make your ranunculus?".  Then they get upset when you answer that they can purchase the DVD online and watch as often as they want!  I have no problem doing free tutorials for magazines, or my blog on basic things.  A lot of time and effort went in to preparing the DVD, and if I were to teach it as a class, it would easily be 2 days and cost about $350......The DVD is $34.99.....a fraction of the cost of me teaching it live.

Here's another example that applies to taking classes (including Craftsy).  I recently took Joshua John Russell's Haute Couture Cake class at Icing Inspirations.  My class cost was not just the class itself - I rented a car to travel there and back, gas, food and hotel.  I posted the picture and within a few hours had multiple messages asking me if and when I would teach it here in Montreal.
Here's where I have an issue.  As an instructor, I do not want my students taking what I taught and turning it into a class of their own.  Can I control it?  Absolutely not!  What I can do, is hope that people see that by my NOT teaching a class that I have taken, they will see the level of respect and integrity that I have for myself and fellow instructors.  Until students can understand this point, things won't change, and in turn it cheapens the learning experience for teachers and students equally.  I hope taking this stance shows people that I am an instructor that takes his love for the craft seriously and wants to offer his students classes that they can appreciate the work that goes into planning classes.  Where it is OK to teach a technique you didn't develop, is say where you saw a picture online and taught yourself, or you modified something you learned in a class and made it your own.

I would hope, as an instructor, that if someone was going to teach something similar to something I taught, that they would have the decency to contact me and say they were teaching it.  I just finished co-teaching Macabre Sugar Flowers.  One of the flowers I taught was the Dahlia - a flower I recently made in class with James Rosselle.  Now I had made them prior to James' class, and my technique was slightly similar to his.  I was not teaching his techniques, but I was still respectful enough to contact him and give him a heads up that I was teaching Dahlia and assured him I was not teaching his methods - simply because I respect him as an artist and a person.

I really hope in writing this, people were not offended.  It was not my intention.  It was simply something I needed to address as it has been asked a lot of me lately, and I really wanted to help people understand why I won't teach something I learned directly from someone else or why I won't just give my methods away for free.

Until Next Time,
Happy Caking!

1 comment:

  1. Mark,
    I like you and your work, now I have great respect for you! You have morals and standards, never lower them for anyone! Stick to what you believe in, that way, you never disappoint yourself!
    Great work!!!
    Patti M