Three Reasons I Don’t Teach



The more I’m out in the public eye, the more I’m asked about making personal appearances of various types.  For example, when I was in Raleigh a few weekends ago vending at the Raleigh Quilting & Sewing Expo, I was offered no less than 10 different speaking opportunities mainly in the North Carolina and Virginia area. For example:

-Several quilting or sewing guilds were looking for guest speakers at their monthly meetings…

-and a couple of store owners wanted to know if I’d be willing to teach a handbag-specific class…

-and a few small regional quilt shows were looking to fill their Booth areas with “brand-name” vendors who might also be willing to teach a class or conduct a  “Make & Take” session or two, since either or both increase foot-traffic.

And here’s the thing… despite the fact that I know several gals who make a pretty good living doing this very thing, and even though I would seriously LOVE to be able to be one of those folks who seemingly do this with EASE, and notwithstanding that its SO very flattering to be sought after in this way, I always politely decline.

Say WHAT????

Yep, no matter how politely I say it, that’s the kind of look I always get when I do so!  I can generally tell by their quizzical expressions that they really do not begin to understand why I would turn down these opportunities. So I thought this might be as good a place and time as ever, to explain the;

THREE Reasons that I Don’t Teach

  1. It doesn’t come natural to me.

    Let’s face it, we’ve all known teachers who had brilliant minds, but were lousy teachers, right? They just couldn’t relate and adapt their teaching to a wide variety of people. For this reason I’m a firm believer that the world’s best teachers are divinely gifted in much the same way as musicians, artists, and craftsmen. Teaching is an ability that  just seems to come naturally to them. They “come alive” when they teach. It’s something they just can’t help but do.

  2. It’s not my passion.

    I have actually met a few individuals who had such an overwhelmingly strong desire to teach that they were willing to work extra HARD to develop the skills and abilities to make them great teachers. I have never felt such a drive. On the few occasions where I’ve stood before a group in an attempt to teach, I’ve approached it with an attitude of sheer dread.

  3. It’s the WRONG way to spend my time!

    When I started this business almost 10 years ago, I promised myself that I would spend as much time as possible doing things I loved to do and was divinely suited for. And I really do believe that this is the primary reason I’ve been able to accomplish as much as I have.  Because here’s the deal… it takes me FOREVER to do things I don’t like doing! I’m much better off to avoid those jobs as much as possible or hire folks to do them for me. By focusing my attention on things I love doing and do well, (like writing and designing) I can stay energized, enthusiastic and “on task” for hours on end!

So… after reading this…

Aren’t you glad I’m not your next guest speaker?

But seriously, when I decline a speaking engagement, I’m not only avoiding an uncomfortable job, but I’m also saving YOU the discomfort of having to watch and listen to me struggle through it!

Does this post resonate with anyone else?
What job task would you avoid ever doing again if you could?

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26 Comments So Far, You're Next!

  1. Housework. I would avoid housework like the plague. I always wanted to be Samantha Stevens and just twitch my nose to make everything clean and shiny.

  2. I discovered teaching quilting three years ago after many years of encouragement to do so. I absolutely love it. Write a pattern? Been there, done that, hated it. Good thing we don’t all have the same talents. Love the blog.

  3. Kathy, I know how you feel! I make the Chrismon beaded ornaments, which are only seasonal. People tell me ALL THE TIME, “why don’t you make jewelry when you are not making Chrismons. You could make a lot of money selling jewelry.” Well, IT IS NOT MY PASSION. I could care less about jewelry, wouldn’t know where to start, what was popular, or what to make. I don’t wear it, I don’t use it, and I could care less about it. Again, It is not my PASSION! Making Chrismons IS my Passion and I love every minute of it, aching hands and all.

    • This is a good insight Donna. I think its hard for some folks to understand that making money is great, but if you have to make it doing something over and over again ONLY for that reason, then that’s a passionless life. I’m so glad you have it figured out! 🙂
      We are the lucky ones who get to make money do the thing we actually have passion for! 🙂

    • Donna, you are so blessed to know how to do the ch
      Chrismon ornaments! I have ALWAYS wanted to do those for our church.i would appreciate any points & information you could give me.

  4. I hate housework. I have tried teaching….I do better with small groups or one on one. I agree totally that you should find your passion and go for it. However, sometimes that journey into finding your passion can lead you into new areas that you either love or chalk up to experience.

    • You are absolutely right Leslie. I guess thats why its important to TRY new things, and be open to new avenues. But when things are clicking and there’s just no enjoyment in an area, then its time to chalk it up to experience and move on to a new thing! Great comment!

  5. People can ask me to do stuff all they want. But I owe it to myself to spend my precious sewing time doing what I love. Sometimes what they want me to do, is what I’d love to do, and sometimes it is not. I give them a smile and a “no”, cause it takes me forever to do stuff I hate. My problem is there’s so much I want to do and only 24 hours in a day. Which is all the more reason to say no to other people’s ideas of what I should do with my time.

  6. I really appreciate you insight regarding teaching. I love the teaching, the designing and the creating. Then there is the writing of the directions or the book(I would love to have) that I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around, I break out in a sweat, mouth goes dry just thinking about it.

  7. Huh. It never occurred to me teaching would be a foregone assumption. I completely understand your preference to design.

  8. You are doing the right thing. I know how hard it is to teach classes and if it doesn’t come natural it would be awful. You do an amazing job at what you do. I completely understand not wanting to teach or speak to groups. Not my thing either. I can help instruct small groups but more than five and I would be too over whelmed.

  9. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others but to actually organize a class where several people would attend, ask questions and expect a logical (to them) answer – no thank you…. I have written a few tutorials (with pictures) for my quilting group and I have found different people process information differently. Something I thought was so simple ended up being a week of emailing photos back and forth before one of the ladies ‘got it’…. It was very frustrating for me and I know for her – so, nope…. teaching would not be for me either. Good for you for understanding and developing your true talents!

  10. I used to work in a fabric shop and sewing machine dealership. I enjoyed teaching a new owner to use her sewing machine one on one, but I hated having more than one to deal with. After my first two efforts teaching a sewing class turned out to be a nightmare, I realized that even though I had skills, I would never enjoy teaching. Life is too short to be stressed over something that you don’t want to do if it isn’t neccesary! I love to sew, but housework? Not much, but it is neccesary… LOL

  11. I am so glad you teach through your easy to understand patterns and great ideas. I have also enjoyed your videos! Keep doing what you love… are appreciated for it!

  12. I’m a non-teacher, too. I was encouraged to teach when I was exploring my own way of making landscape quilts. I taught maybe 5 or 6 classes, and it dried me up so completely that not only did I not want to teach, but I also never made any more landscape quilts. You are very wise to know this so clearly about yourself.

    Kathy — I was thinking about the latest design and some of the comments about the front pocket not being very secure. I was thinking that as an alternative, instead of a pocket, the area could be a focal point of piecing, applique, embroidery or just centering a fabric motif there. Just a thought (off-topic).

    • Thanks all for the kind words and you know what? It feels great to hear that I’m not the only one who has felt this pressure.
      As for the pocket on the front of the new design, here’s how I’m thinking about that….
      The complaints about the pocket being an insecure place to store valuables is a valid one, but here’s the deal. Some people may never carry the bag as a backpack and the security of the pocket is a non-issue for shoulder and cross-body carrying. The simple solution to me, is to not put anything valuable in there when its being carried as a backpack, OR as you say… the ones who are really concerned about this can substitute some embroidery or applique in that spot instead.
      Thanks again for commenting. I really enjoy “listening” to all of these suggestions! 🙂

  13. I think teaching is a gift, some of the best quilting classes I have taken have been from people that were school teachers before they “retired” and some of the worst teachers are great artists but horrible teachers. I love that you know what you are good at, and don’t just accept the teaching gigs for the money – which seems it might be the thing lots of people are doing now. Keep up the great work!!

  14. kathleen babbitt

    I have several of your patterns but haven’t put them to fabric yet. I have been purging my home to have more time to sew. I hate stopping what I am doing to fix dinner! so sunday and sometimes it bleeds into Monday I cook all day and make dinners we can just pull out and have dinner ready in 10 minutes I try new and different stuff and also plan for lunches, making up tuna salad or chicken salad. this seems to be working very well. I want to teach children how to sew and cook and that is the gold at the end of my rainbow. I would rather teach children than adults! there is so much excitement in their eyes. but if teaching isn’t up your alley than why pursue that way of life. Life is too short (now that I am 60 OMG) not to do what you love for as long as you can.

  15. thank you for your honesty…..I have set thru so many programs and wished the speaker was more organized, or was more familiar with what they were trying to tell the group. I, too, am not a teacher. I can show one person how to do something, or at least how I do it, but I cannot stand before a group and not get flustered and end up sounding like a blooming idiot. again, thanks for your recognizing your own limitations !

  16. I agree. Do what you are good at. You keep on designing your great bags and writing great instructions and leave the seminars to those that have a passion for it. I really enjoy your site and your written tutorials are great. See you are teaching through your writing and stick to it if that is what you are good at.
    I love StudioKatDesigns.

    Ozark, MO

  17. Katherine Gelpi

    I make all my purses & clothes & people are always asking me to make something like what I have on or the purse I have with me, for them & they’ll gladly pay me whatever I would charge. I thank them for the compliment & then tell them I don’t sew for anyone unless I want to .I like sewing what I want & when I want. They always come back with “But you could be making a lot of money!” I tell them we’re retired & don’t want to be back in business, but it seems people think it’s all about the almighty $$$.
    Personally, it would take the FUN out!