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A Bit of History
For most of my teaching life I defined Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Qualifications for Teacher Status as follows:
When you started stitching, you vowed you would follow the rules. Someone told you the weight of thread to use and you used precisely that weight, no deviations. When someone told you a Continental Stitch always went from lower left to upper right, you made sure your stitches all fell in that direction. Etc. etc. etc.. And if you made a mistake, you dutifully ripped it out and restitched the area.
Then one day you made a mistake and didn't want to rip it out. Instead, you looked for a way you could incorporate the mistake into the piece. That is the point at which you stepped into intermediate.
You are stitching along and making small 'adjustments' to designs. Maybe you substitute a pink thread when the design calls for orange because you don't like orange and maybe you substitute initials you like better, and maybe even a stitch or two you found and want to try.
Then one day you make the colossal granddaddy of errors, you face either hours and hours of ripping or you abandon the piece all together. Then it occurs to you, maybe you could find a path that keeps the integrity of the design but doesn't involve colossal ripping or total abandonment.
If this has happened to you, you have taken your first step into Advanced.
I used to read the detailed guild descriptions of levels and thought I had none of those qualifications, other than taking a lot of classes (albeit often unconventional classes). My sole qualification as a teacher was that I had made so many mistakes and ripped so often that I was good at digging myself out of problems and therefore good at helping my students do the same.
That was then.
A New Look at Advanced
I don't have trouble with a delineation between Beginner and Intermediate, I think I was right on in my original description. Where I run into difficulty is the delineation between Intermediate and Advanced.
As I sit here thinking about it, Advanced isn't a matter of knowing different (difficult) techniques or hard-to-handle threads, it is a state of mind. The Advanced Stitcher has a mixture of vision, adventure and courage that the intermediate Student does not. The Advanced Stitcher is close to Needlepoint Soldier of Fortune: not playing it too safe, willing to take chances, willing to listen to her inner mind, coupled with the experience to understand when her ideas are working, when they're not, and the imagination to dream up what to do about it all.
As for Teacher: I stick by my original definition.
Why do I include These Definitions?
I know what DH would tell me, these definitions are hogwash. It's like he tells me about the 'mind-body' dichotomy; it's an artifical one hatched in the Western World. Mind-body, it's all one.
He's right, but I think there is one reason for making the point: we people like titles and if you think of yourself as an 'Advanced' Student or perhaps better put, an 'Advancing' Student, you will be a bit more courageous and imaginative. From now on, measures of imagination and courage are what it takes.
I like to think my Advanced Lessons deal with an Advancing State of Mind.
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Is anyone ever Advanced? Advanced always implies to me someone who knows it all. Now I know some people who think they know it all, and likely you do too, but I know I don't know even a substantial amount of what there is to know.
Rather than think of myself as an Advanced Student, I think of myself as an Advancing Student. I learn a bit here, I figure out a bit there and the days move forward.
These lessons include some snippets of what I have learned and figured out, snippets that have helped me move more of the days forward.