25070Re: [SCA-Archery] Mongolian Archery Question
- Jul 17, 2008That's a tough one. Speaking as someone who shoots a horsebow himself
and understands how little most Americans know about the whole subject,
and also as someone who has taught in Collegia out here in the West
Kingdom, I have a few suggestions I hope are useful.
If your class description is clear, then you can be fairly sure that
whatever class you teach, the students who show up will know what they
are getting into, and will have an interest in that particular aspect of
the subject. The real problems are:
a) what topic do you really want to teach;
b) what topic will be interesting to the greatest number of people, or
at least a goodly number of people; and
c) how do you guess what level of knowledge and experience your students
will have (e.g. archers vs non-archers)?
In my experience, when we are laying the groundwork of knowledge in a
new field, we generally have to concentrate on (b) and save (a) for
later, when we have built up a clientele, so to speak. Otherwise, we
lose them. It sounds like you have already come to the same conclusion.
The ideal answer to question (b), in my mind, is actually to offer more
than one course: first your #4 history class to set the stage and whet
the appetite, then a hands-on "Mongolian Archery Technique" course which
combines the practical applications of your #1 and #3 (which are
intimately related anyway). (As a first offering, I would not recommend
the historical and cultural aspects of either thumb rings or the thumb
draw. I don't think they would fly. These are really fairly arcane
topics for folks grounded in Western civilization, best saved for when
they have developed a serious interest in Eastern archery.)
If teaching two courses isn't feasible, then I would recommend going
with just the hands-on "Mongolian Archery Technique" course. Strictly
speaking, at least to my mind, "Traditional Mongolian Archery" per se is
technique and equipment much more than it is history, and I think most
people seeing that topic title would expect, or at least want, to learn
something about how to do it. If you have any historically-sized (i.e.
very short) horsebows for students to try, the answer to "why use the
thumb draw" will also become apparent readily enough. (Of course, the
thumb draw can be discouraging for beginners, so be sure to demonstrate
how well it can work once one becomes skilled. Also, unless you have an
indoor range available you will probably want to be ready to shift gears
to "demo + Temüjin lecture" if the weather is too nasty to actually go
out and shoot.)
The answer to question (c), in my experience, is that unless you
explicitly exclude students who lack a certain level of knowledge or
experience (which you obviously don't want to do here), you have
absolutely no way of knowing what sort you are going to get. Very often
you will get a broad range. My advice is to take a quick poll of your
students and then try to teach the class at a level that will be
moderately challenging to most of them. Provide class notes which
introduce some of the information you won't have time to cover in
class. Especially, a well-done "further reading" list can not only help
students at any level deepen their knowledge, but also get them started
on related topics if that's what they want. In a one-hour class, you
simply can't tailor things to each student, but with good class notes
you can help them do this for themselves, later on.
The bottom line is that it is impossible to be sure of making the right
choice of class offering. There are too many variables beyond our
control. We all guess wrong sometimes, but it's not the end of the
world. Just make the best judgment you can, be sure your class
descriptions are clear, and then when the day comes try to tailor your
teaching level to your students. Even if a class flops at a particular
University, don't get discouraged. You still have the class notes, and
your own knowledge, available to pull out in the future when a more
receptive audience appears -- plus you have gained audience insights you
can apply to the next University. Eventually you will have a whole
spectrum of classes in your magic bag, ready for any occasion, and in
the meantime you will have deepened your own knowledge of the subject,
and probably improved your teaching skills.
I hope some of that is helpful. Good luck!
Ceterum censeo, Carthago delenda est.
Steven Fuller wrote:
> Hey folks,
> I have been asked by a few people (separately, even!) if I would teach
> a class on Traditional Mongolian Archery at Atlantian Fall University.
> They wanted it to be a part of a whole Mongolian track of classes,
> including cooking, culture, clothing, furniture, etc.
> My question, then, is this: seeing as how I only have an hour to teach
> a subject and I really need to narrow my class down to one topic, what
> should I teach about?
> 1) History of the Mongolian Draw, How It's Done and Why
> 2) History of the Thumb Ring and Its Cultural Significance
> 3) Learn to Shoot with a Thumb Ring
> 4) Horse Archery and Its Pivotal Role in the Spread of the Mongolian
> I'm not really sure who my "students" will be, if they would be mostly
> archers or mostly non-archers. How should I decide what would be most
> wanted out of a Mongolian archery class?
> Thanks for any and all suggestions (and any reference help would be
> great, too! *grin*),
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