Teaching as a Period Art

Through Dialog and Publication

by Ælflæd of Duckford

15 Apr 2001

In an online discussion of and by Outlands peers, the following question was asked. My response follows.

  • What is the one ultra-period cool thing that you can share with others?
  • Not for a display table.

    I've been thinking of this question all week and wanted to answer before the Monday Challenge #4 arrives.

    Gunwaldt put more shelves in the library and I've been rearranging books, some of which have brought to mind some mid-period (truly medieval, not Renaissance) music I have, with the help of others over the years, reconstituted, back to life, in the air. That is ultra period. I found a couple pieces I would like to do, maybe in inter-group fashion, before Christmas if any of you are interested.

    That's not my answer, though.

    In mid week, I was planning to say that I find and buy used stuff which has the appearance of "ultra period" (but is mundanely just stuff), and which is truly useful, and I give it to people. And that is period--giving gifts to people who have served me, or people who have impressed me with a story or an act of courtesy when they thought they had no audience. And by sharing the things I find, I get to shop (which is DAMNED period) without having to keep every cool thing I buy.

    But that's not my answer.

    What I want to submit as the ultra period thing I do is this: I teach. By a period method called "disputatio" I help people discover and clarify their beliefs. I lead and nudge them toward awareness of their abilities, of their faults, of their duty and of the power of their positions, in various cases and combinations, as appropriate to the person.

    Sometimes this involves only my formal students. Sometimes someone will come to me with a limited, particular problem, wanting help with a situation. It happened this week. It will probably happen next week. When possible, I try to help them see how they had the answer already, instead of 'gifting' them with an answer from me, and leaving them needing to come back the next time. There might not always be a next time.

    Above was in answer to a question on the peers' list of the Outlands. Below was, similarly, on a closed list but as it is my own writing and of a philosophical nature (not about a candidate), I share it for the consideration of others:

    [Someone wrote:]
    It is important for the artist to get out and interact with others. How else will they teach?

    [I responded:]

    Articles, websites, patterns, production, people coming to them.
    -=-They need to learn of the other requirements of peerage by doing, not by reading about them. Their location and ability to travel must also be taken into account. -=-
    One of my favorite members of [the Order of the Laurel, in the Outlands] is Mistress Richenza, who was elevated without travelling because she was employed in the boonies caring for an elderly rancher and couldn't leave for a weekend. But she was teaching more and better than many others. Her attitude was good, her costumes impeccable, her energy was like a big light, and this could happen again someday, so let's not make policies that could tie our own hands. I found myself teaching lately without lifting a finger. Aindrea made fifty copies of Feasthall Ballads (tape and book) and has sold and given away half of them already. The feedback has been really good, but I did that project a dozen years or more ago.

    Bright Ideas and True Confessions was an obscure publication with a small but enthusiastic following, but now it's a website.


    People are still learning from it, and I still get feedback and thank-you notes. I still use and photocopy for other people some of Mistress Rodema's calligraphy handouts, and Mistress Monika's lefthanded calligraphy handout, and Mistress Eowyn Amberdrake's one-page version of "Interlacing Without Erasing."

    People can teach without being there. Some of us learn from period dead-people pretty regularly.

    It's not the only way, and not always the best way, but publication is a legitimate and period method of service, instruction and the passing on of one's art and research.

    June 20, 2002

    Ælflæd's this'n'that

    On Knighthood

    Humility and Formality

    some bio