Re: teaching henna?

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Posted by Maureen on July 11, 2002 at 06:00:54:

In reply to: teaching henna? posted by Darla so Dreadly on July 8, 2002 at 14:48:28:

Hi Darla,

Actually, I love the opportunity to teach people something about
Mehndi. But, I find I have to be very careful to understand the part
of the process they are interested in knowing about. If not, they
get that sort of glazed over look in their eyes. I also have to get
real clear for myself "why" I am teaching a particular aspect. And
that "why" has to do with where the person who wants to learn is at,
at that particular point in time.

Sometimes the only part of the learning a person can hold on to is
what they need at that point in time. I have done workshops during
which I give a quick overview of history and tradition and give out
lots of reference material for future learning...if the person is
interested. But that particular workshop may be just to teach the
application process and how to wrap and after care. These may be
workshops for "touch deprived" people who can benefit from the focus
on self, safe touch and taking risks touching or being touch by
another person in a safe way. Mehndi is perfect for such workshops.
The learning taken away has a reach farther and deeper than just
having a henna design and using the paste.

Sometimes I may focus only on teaching the procedures and ingredients
for mixing paste, applying and sealing, wrapping, aftercare and what
to expect from the resulting stains. This is often for people who
have used premixed pastes and have some idea and mastery of
designing, but no idea about "how and why" henna does what it does.
In order to provide them with the skills and understanding necessary
to control their products...the stains...I provide this information
and attempt to walk them through to their own learning.

I think there is soooooooo much to learn about Mehndi as body art,
that it is not possible to teach a person everything in one sitting.
You can teach it, but they can't learn it all. So trying to teach it
all is a waste of your time and can prove to be discouraging,
overwhelming and even boring to the person trying to learn.

If a person shows interest in learning some aspect of
Mehndi...perhaps even just to learn what henna
is...teaching/providing that information can open the door to their
desire for more information. I think you can just allow yourself to
start where the person is and not feel obliged to teach more than
they are capable of learning.

It reminds me of teaching a painting or ceramics class. If I am not
absolutely clear about what I am teaching, I may have class full of
people showing up for a ceramics class, each with a very different
expectation and desire for what they want to learn. One wants to
learn to throw a pot...another how to use glazes...another about
firing their finished products...and on and on. I have never found
the way to teach anyone everything about painting, ceramics, henna
and a bunch of other things in just one teaching session. So,
letting them know of the narrow focus of a particular
well as its context in the over all picture, really is what works for
me. That also allows you to teach only the aspects you wish and
assures the person their for the learning is getting what they came

I don't think that teaching henna or anything else when done well,
ever trivializes it. I think that the act of people coming for the
learning points out its importance. It may seem like a small part of
a huge picture to us who have seen and have some mastery over the
entire picture. But for someone just learning, that piece is all of
the whole picture that they can use or hold on to at that time. That
is the need we want to satisfy and that is an important thing to do.
Can it get to be boring? Yes, but if so, it might be something
better left to be taught by someone who gets excited about teaching
it. I can cook, but I don't want to teach I don't. I also
find that there are certain things that I will teach to children but
never will spend a minute teaching adults and the converse is true as
well. But, I know that is about me and not the people wishing to
learn. So when it comes to teaching, I think we need to determine
where our own comfort level is. There is no need to violate our own
self and do something we have no comfort level in doing or desire to
to. A list of referrals to give to people so they can get the
learning they desire from another source is always a good thing to
have on hand.

There are lots of people on this forum right now who are capable of
putting together their own books or pamphlets or courses to teach
people the various aspects of Mehndi. No one person has to take on
the entire task. But the basic "how to" information done well, that
covers everything from selecting powder, mixing, recipes, additives
and ingredients, procedures required for making paste, applying henna
paste, sealants and sealing, wrapping, after care, henna history &
traditions, henna patterns and designs, creating your own design,
transfers, stencils, block out techniques, supplies, and on and on
and on is certainly doable if different people take on different
parts. Some of this is already done. I am sure information will
continue to change. But certainly the development of a piece that is
a collective effort that people could be referred to is both doable
and probably necessary. That it come from people on this forum only
makes sense. This would certainly be something that would fill up a
complete Journal Issue. It could be something available for people
to go to at no cost. It could be a piece with a small fee that
people, I believe, would pay for good and updated information. There
are books out there now that people are reading that have outdated
information in it. I think when people pick up a piece of
information here and another piece there and still other pieces
elsewhere, that leads to confusion. There should be a way to provide
a document compiled with what we consider to be "good" information
that folks can access and obtain readily that contains what we
believe to be our "best thinking" instruction and advice.

Just my thoughts.



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