Shoemaking Philosophy and Teaching Methods

If you seek a teacher, examine his body of work. Consider the creations of his students. Ponder his philosophy and goals. Critically view his teaching methods.
William Shanor

Our philosophy of teaching shoemaking and our special teaching methods are closely linked. The creation of fashion shoes – all shoes for that matter – is a unique creative experience. And our nearly four decades of instructing and inspiring shoemaking firmly supports our belief that all students are creative beyond their dreams.

Teaching the craft of shoemaking is so very much more than just lecturing and demonstrating. It is finding students’ physical skills (they all have them) and clarifying their learning style. It is exposing students to different tools, methods, and machines to find the “fit” that leads to a well-crafted shoe.

Once a student’s learning style is clear, we observe the student at work and experiment with them to find the tools and methods to dovetail with each learning style. Our quest is to have as many ways as possible to do each shoemaking task so that students can adopt the methods most natural to them. All instruction is clear, concise, and patiently given.

Whether creating a sexy high-heel tango shoe, a “vampy” club shoe, an elegant men’s shoe, simple buffalo moccasins, simple shoes, hiking boots or flamboyant western boots, the rules are the same: find the student’s strengths and aptitudes, and then gently, but firmly, push them toward their dreams.

Teaching is all about the student. How a teacher expands him/her is the “magic”.

When assessing a shoemaking school talk at length with the teacher. See the teacher’s shop and, if possible, watch him/her work.

For a preview of Bill’s workshop and teaching style, see this video at Oregon Art Beat »

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