You may recall that on July 4 a group of instructors volunteered to build new walls, so we can teach walling while accommodating social distance. One week later, on July 11, The Stone Trust hosted our first workshop since the moratorium began at the end of March. During the Introduction to Dry Stone Walling workshop, 5 men and 2 women learned and applied the 5 basic rules of dry stone walling using our new infrastructure. Over the course of the 8 hour day, each waller stripped out and rebuilt their own independent section of wall. Of course, people who come as a family/friend/colleague group are able to work together.
Three of our DSWA-GB Certified instructors— Sam Brakeley, Dario Coletta, and Brian Post--got a feel for teaching in this new format. The format presents challenges. Some challenges are simple, like setting up ten tents before the workshop begins. (In the past, we didn’t run workshops in the height of summer.) Others require a shift in the instructional dynamic; it takes greater thoughtfulness to be sure you have attended to each learner when they are spread out than when they are working closely. Sounds like our teachers managed the shift! Here’s a thought from one of the participants:
We had a great experience and I am eager to sign up for another class. Looking forward to the next one!
Our usual instructor:student ratio is 1:8. That allows for plenty of opportunity to helpful interaction. We won’t promise a 1:2 ratio for every workshop, but it is the case that the current situation requires more staff and allows for fewer students. Only people eligible to travel to Vermont without quarantining are able to attend. Fortunately, many people have transferred registrations to our fall schedule of workshops. People are being patient and good humored.
A friend of The Stone Trust sent a message acknowledging our “herculean efforts” to make workshops happen. It does take a lot of work. Indeed, Saturday’s instructors took turns building our social-distance retaining walls for this Saturday’s workshop!
All the effort is worth it. Everyone involved is friendly, open, tolerant, and energetic. Everyone wants to learn how to build beautiful, durable dry stone walls! Thanks to all for sharing in our mission to preserve and enhance the art and craft of dry stone walling.