Question of study group format

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Question of study group format

Post  NeilD3 on Sun May 31, 2009 10:42 pm

I am looking for input from the forum, particularly those that have some experience in starting, leading or participating in a succesful small bonsai study group. Looking for lessons learned, mostly. This is a concept I've not heard much about in the US. I have seen many examples online of the study group in Europe. Not sure why this is.

I was able to study with a very experienced bonsai friend/mentor regularly for the last 3 years +/-. A great experience! I moved to a new community where this is not possible. The local club has several members willing to present material periodically, however the club does not have the abundance of resources to schedule workshops, nor does it seem that many members are willing to participate, for one reason or another.

I do see a small handful of passionate people willing to work hard and progress their knowledge, skills and collections as far as possible.

I would like to start a very small but very focused study group.

The question: What format has worked well for others? What goals and guidelines are commonplace in your groups (seems important to have them).

Ideas: Members commit a minimum level of time to study sessions, each member contributes a tree or two to be guided/developed by the group over time, other regular sessions focused on specific projects(rock planting, forest planting, thread grafting, etc, etc...) of value to the group. Other thoughts???

Thanks for your time!
Neil




NeilD3
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Re: Question of study group format

Post  NeilD3 on Sun May 31, 2009 10:44 pm

Oh yeah, I am NOT considering myself the leader, or mentor in anyway. Just another participant willing to learn.

NeilD3
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Re: Question of study group format

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Sun May 31, 2009 10:53 pm

One our members began having anyone who wanted to come to his bonsai garden once a month. Bring your own tree(s), tools, wire, a chair if you want. Get there after lunch, leave when you like.

It is over 50 miles (one way) for me, so I haven't been in some time.

Also a well known Bonsai nursery has a similar event of the 4th Sunday. However, it is 100 miles (one way) for me.

I think a minimum of rules works best. (read none)

Billy M. Rhodes
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Re: Question of study group format

Post  NeilD3 on Sun May 31, 2009 11:27 pm

Thanks Billy.

I should also add:

I think there is great value in a more consistent group of members, as opposed to an ad hoc approach. I have attended these "walk in's" in the past as well and they were more doughnut eating or horseplay than real work with intent of actual learning. A bunch of guys needle plucking while chatting or eating is not what I am after.

NeilD3
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Re: Question of study group format

Post  fiona on Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:27 am

I think "study group" is probably a term that is widely used but without much of a common definition. I am part of what we loosely call a study group over here and it really came about because a group of us wanted to learn more about our craft than the national assosiation we were part of could offer. The association catered more for beginners and I suppose the least offensive term would be "hobbyist" - i.e. those who wanted to go along for a bit of bonsai pottering, some of your doughnut eating and a lot of gossiping. It was also getting lost in a mire of admin and committees and all the issues that brings. We decided to form a group who travel about the UK visiting the gardens of bonsai people who can teach usthe odd snippet here and there. For example recently we travelled 300miles + to send an excellent day with Tony Tickle, and many of us made the much longer trip to the Best of British bonsai exhibition - both of these very worthwhile for learning and for meeting other like-minded people. We also arrange for people to come up and teach us new things or help us progress in more routine matters. Again for example, recently we had a carving workshop as this was a skill most of us have only dabbled in.

We are not denigrating the national association - it has to cater for as many levels as it can. Unfortunately currently it caters more for the hobbyist than the more seriously-minded bonsaiists.

The study group idea works for us as we all are prepared to put in the time and effort. And of course money, because we all want to buy better raw material and are willing to pay a bit extra to bring up a better teacher, and these things dont come cheap. And yes we still have Wednesday night drop-in sessions but what we've found is that we now use them to hone skills we have learned on our travels, so in that respect we have become much more focussed.

I hope you have success with your own venture - we found it's very much what we want to make of it as we're in the driving seat.

And not a constitution in sight! Excellent!

fiona
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