The Value of Good Teaching
Along with all my classes I take because I have to, apparently for credit (I still am not aware of last semester’s final marks), I also take a taijiquan course and a calligraphy course.
The calligraphy course was previously taught by a art student at the uni with a particularly lazy attitude to teaching. He bought each student some nice supplies – a good paint brush, practice paper, ink, and a book with Chinese characters to copy. Last semester, all I did was copy characters in that book. The skill I got from that – I learned how to copy characters with the brush and ink, mostly with the correct stroke order (sometimes different than the stroke order used when writing with a pen).
If I did any work outside of that, the teacher would only comment if something was good or bad. He never explained in any particular detail why a character was good or bad. If it was bad, he never explained how to do a better job or how to do it correctly.
A few months ago, the so-called teacher had some sort of accident that resulted in a rather long hospital stay. Sometimes there was a sub, sometimes not. The student office must have gotten annoyed after the most recent absence before the 五一节 period. This week, there was not a sub, but a new instructor.
Because of the previous unreliability with the original instructor, the other students in the class did not bother to come. It was just me, and the new teacher. The new teacher took the time to show me how to use the brush such that my characters would look nice, without needing to copy out of the book on translucent paper. He also took the time to begin introducing me to other scripts (like grass script, seal script, etc). He was much more knowledgeable about traditional Chinese characters.
Too bad there is only 2 months left in which to utilise the far superior instruction of the new calligraphy teacher.