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Learning to Throw Pots

Approaching How People Learn in a Pottery Studio

I think about this daily, I’ve thought about this daily. As a former technical writer, I thought about it as I wrote and explained technology. As a pottery teacher I think about it as I teach people the fundamentals of wheel throwing. I’ve refined my teaching process over the years, and I think it is applicable across a lot of fields.

Do the field trip first. I believe people must have hooks in their brains when approaching a new subject. They get hooks by having some sort of framework to hang the new information. I approach this part of the learning stage by giving each student a laminated page with each step of the throwing process explained. As a class, we read through each step. We next go to the wheels. I demonstrate how to throw while bringing attention to each step. And finally, as a class we all throw the clay, going through each step.

Practice the new skill. Everyone gets a bucket of wedged clay that they will throw for the next three hours. The list of steps is next to them as they throw. I then track each student’s progress and help them on some of the steps as they throw.

Results. I’ve noticed a huge difference in the result of the first class over previous classes. Students are centering much faster and mastering the other steps in throwing. Students love it as their pots look much more finished that in the past and they are able to move onto more mastery.

I’m still evolving my teaching practice but I believe this technique is wort pursuing.

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