Education Forum

Personal Attention During Class

By Margaret Saul 

Originally appeared in The Botanical Artist – Number 34


Here are some thoughts from Leonie Norton of Australia: 

It is with much enthusiasm that I contribute to this new concept of a teachers’ forum for shared discussion on botanical art education. An issue that my students have raised in the past regards the amount of time that a tutor actually spends with them in the course of a class. Many years ago, the first workshop I attended was conducted by two tutors, with a total of twelve students, all beginners. During a six-hour day, most of the students were fortunate if either tutor saw them once. Demanding students dominated the tutor’s time, and as is often the case, it is the demanding students who are often the most capable. The quiet student may need a lot of help, but not directly ask for it. This taught me an enormous lesson and one that I follow strictly when I instruct. I vowed never to give one person more time than another, despite differing levels of ability and capability. 

This has worked extremely well for me and for my students, proven by an almost 100% return rate to classes. I begin at the front of the class one week, and, spending equal time with each student, work my way methodically around the room. During a 3- hour class I see each student twice. This also enables me to successfully combine both beginners and advanced students in one class. 

The second week I work my way from the back to the front, so the students that were seen last the previous week are now seen first. If a student has a particular problem, I will make it a class demonstration, as what often troubles one will be difficult for many. In this way they are continually learning new techniques and problem solving.

 I hope this information has been of help to others. Always try to put yourself in a student’s position. Feedback forms at the end of a course can also be of tremendous assistance as to what the students find work for them, or what a course may be lacking. 

Happy Teaching!! 

Leonie Norton is from Sydney, Australia. She is a botanical art educator, and holds BA/VA, BFA(Hons)Plant & Wildlife Illustration and Grad.Dip.VET(Adult Education).