Big Rowan Ackison (greensh) wrote,
Big Rowan Ackison

  • Music:

A Question about Teaching

I found this dialogue when I looked through my past notes. It is offered up for reflection and comments.

Question: On a different note, have you ever taught any classes for pay?
If so what and how did it go and how do you feel about that generally?

My teaching “career” started via Hazelthorne, a Wiccan discussion group, that met one to two times a month at people’s homes. A different topic was covered by a volunteer, and I did a variety of tarot and astrology classes. There was no charge for these classes, and as they did not factor into a “degree” program of any sort. Hazelthorne stopped meeting when the Wiccan group associated with it disbanded.

When Hazelthorne stopped meeting, I took the lead in helping create a metaphysical discussion group named “Journeys”. We also met once or twice a month, for free, at people’s homes and public places. I taught a wide variety of classes under this format. It eventually stopped when interest stopped.

After that I taught classes at Barnes and Noble once a month. I presented the classes for free. For the astrology, I had to bring a laptop computer and printer each month so I could print out people’s natal charts (for free). Under this format, I taught astrology for almost four years, shamanism for one year, and tarot for two years. During one year I was doing all three classes on different days of the month. I planned my classes in six month blocks, and had a flyer for January – June and one for July – December. I stopped doing this when I got burned out due to an unsatisfactory energy exchange (more on this later).

I did do a number of “paid” classes during the four years I did free classes at Barnes and Noble. Most of them were done for Horizons, a metaphysical discussion group that met each Wednesday. $10 was charged at the door, and this covered snacks, the room, and expenses related to advertising for Horizons via a monthly newsletter and website. Horizons was run by Harrison Setlzer. He paid his speakers $45 for their time, and when he taught the class, which was about 50-75% of the time, no money went to the speaker. The topics were varied, and while there were some loose topical trends, the classes did not go toward a degree or certification. The truth be told, Horizons was as much a social outlet for those who attended as it was a place to learn new things.

I’ve spoken at some events were I got a “love donation”, and I’ve done some talks for free a discussion group that was trying to get off the ground. They charged $10/person. I’ve also taught a single session or two, for free, at metaphysically oriented class as part of an adult continuing education group at Furman College.

Oh yeah, I can’t forget speaking on topics at various pagan events (Moondance, FallFling, SS, Pagan Pride). These were done for free.

I hope I didn’t bore you with my history of teaching. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve done my share of public speaking, and to let you know that the majority has been for “free” or a small speaker’s fee. I’ve not had any students in a continuing program that lead to a degree or a certification. So, I guess I have taught classes for pay, but it was in a single class setting. How’d it go? I strongly believe in teaching people, conveying knowledge, and don’t do it any differently when I am charging (indirectly) or doing it for free.

Now, let’s get to the nitty-gritty part of it. I don’t currently teach free classes at Barnes and Noble because I got caught on the non-giving end of an energy exchange. I found myself giving, and receiving back insufficiently. IMHO most any ongoing teaching should have a fair energy exchange. This energy exchange can take the form of money, doting/compliant students who do tasks for you, or merely feeding the teacher’s ego.

Many (Most?) craft programs are “free”, but when you look at the energy exchange model, they are anything but free. The students are expected to do expend energies towards their studies and towards their teacher. In some ways I, with the rebel archetype, prefer the exchange of money because I really don’t want to become somebody’s slave. Does this happen often? No. Does this happen never? No.

It is not unexpected for a person to be expected to pay for a class. The teacher is compensated in someway for their time and effort. Many pagans would agree with this, but somewhere there is a line that says, “after this point you cannot charge for knowledge given.” Where is this line? I’ve given a lot of thought to this, and have this very rough model:

Out Reach, Group, and Charity Teaching – Free
High-powered metaphysical teaching in a clinical environment - $$$$
One-time or “technical” metaphysical teaching – Small Fee or Free*
Craft Degree Program – Free, but energy exchange is expected in other ways (Family structure)

*: can be affected by “family” situations.

In some ways the Craft degree program is a family system, and you don’t charge your family for room and board. However, in a family, there is only one Mamma and one Pappa, and everyone else is a kid or a relative. I think the concept of a “family” teaching environment is important. One-time classes are taught at gatherings for free, and this done under the family umbrella. Sometimes people do charge though. Why? They are supplying things that cost $$$, and the situation is not “family” enough for them to waive the costs. In a Craft degree program the costs are shared across the family. If the “Mamma” or HPS does supply the items used (food), than the “children” or students are expected to set the table, serve the food, clean-up, etc., in this family meal analogy.

I do plan to continue to teach. If I have a craft oriented program (probably not Wiccan), than I would charge very little, and take out my energy exchange via the family structure. Being Pappa can be satisfactory, especially when you see the kids grow up and become adults themselves. I also plan to teach classes to groups, and charge enough money to make a living from it. These groups will be people from all over, who by their own choice, convene in a location for a single class or series of classes. After the class they go their way and I go mine. There may be a loose network made, but it is nowhere near the “family” network of a coven craft setup.

I would feel comfortable with both ways of teaching, and feel that one does not automatically invalidate the other. Based on my “free” teachings of the past, I am tired of giving and giving in a teaching way, and getting insufficient energy exchange back. Whatever you do, do please insure that there is a healthy energy exchange.

I hope this answer your question. Please ask any follow-up questions if you have them.
Tags: craft, free, payment, teaching

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