On Teaching

I enjoy sharing my knowledge. I’ve spent a great deal of time honing my skills in various areas, and in my mind one of the purest expressions of that skill is to teach someone else. For instance, I’ve spent the last few months on and off helping my friend Fox (over at Fox Box) learn Blender. It’s been amazing watching his skills develop, and watching him produce stuff of his own. It’s also helped cement my own knowledge of the software and the skillset, and forced me to confront some of the gaps in my understanding of 3D modelling. It helps that Fox is a receptive student, eager to learn and quick to tell me when what I’m telling him isn’t working.

Somewhat related, I am also a moderator of a large wargaming community dedicated to the worlds and products of Games Workshop, and I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being knowledgeable about topics like 3D printing, airbrushing and laser cutting. The community in general is nice enough, and we have a core community of regulars who are lovely, friendly and often astonishingly talented. One of the things I really enjoy about this community is the space it gives me to share my skills, usually hobby related, with a wider audience. The community has a wide range of skill levels, and it’s really quite satisfying to be able to help someone at the very start of their journey as well as to be able to swap tips with someone who has been at it for decades.

The problem comes when people don’t want to be helped. Or more accurately, when people don’t like the answer they were given. A common topic that comes up is one of stripping paint from miniatures. There is a lot of dangerous advice out there on the internet, and some it is sufficiently bad as to have potentially fatal consequences. You’d think that upon being told “brake fluid is poisonous and difficult to handle safely”, a rational person would go “okay, I won’t use it to strip tiny toy soldiers”. Instead, there’s a category of person who will reject your advice, having instead asked the question in the hopes of validating their prior expectations.

A similar problem often crops up in regard to other safety precautions, such as the question of the use face masks when sanding or airbrushing, or the use of aerosol spray cans. I know wargaming skews heavily young and male, and young men particularly like to imagine they are invincible, but it’s often discouraging when people routinely ask for and then disregard a person’s advice on the safe handling of common hobby supplies.

These incidences are frustrating, but thankfully are outnumbered by the times when I am able to help people. I’ve been very, very fortunate in the past to have had the assistance of experts when learning a wide variety of things and it only feels fair that I return the favour now I am able.