Big thanks to everyone who has joined my online school so far! I’m very pleased with the first two months of existence. I’m writing this blog post to thoroughly explain my thoughts about a question that I have received a few times, and deserves more explanation: Why are the videos only available to rent for 30 days?
There is a sea of pottery videos available for free on YouTube, and the current paradigm is to expect them to be free with unlimited access. I understand this, but I don’t care about following along with what everyone else is doing.
Of all the free instruction available, there is nothing that is structured into a program that will actually train you to be a good potter, starting at the beginner level. This is what’s different about my school. My goal is to provide carefully designed long-form programs. They are geared towards your learning, over a course of time, in a step-by-step progression. This might not be want you want, and that’s ok with me. I’m trying to reach those who want this.
The cost of $22/video is based on a typical in-person class, which lasts 8 weeks on average, costs about $200, and provides maybe 3 project lessons. If you took my entire Core Skills Series of videos, you would still be paying less than the cost of one typical 8 week class, and receiving more than 3 times as much instruction. This is when compared to an in-person class that actually provides instruction. Many of them simply provide a person who will answer questions when asked, but otherwise leaves you alone to figure things out yourself. (I can see all of the frustrated students nodding their heads right now.)
So why can’t videos be purchased instead of rented? On a practical and legal level, I want to reduce oversharing and piracy as much as possible. Unlike a physical DVD that can only be shared in a limited way, an online video has some real potential for mass piracy. And no, I have no plans to make DVDs. I’m not a fan of DVDs, and DVD players are disappearing now anyways.
On a pedagogical level, allowing a permanent purchase of the videos goes against what I believe a teacher/student relationship should be. I believe it only works as a two-way street. As a teacher, I am willing to share everything I know, but only if you are willing to bring your effort and accountability to the table. If you bring anything less than that, then I’m not interested in helping you.
If I were your in-person teacher, would you expect me to give you the same lesson over and over in perpetuity? I doubt it. Would I agree to do it? Not a chance. Doesn’t it seem weird to think of it that way? But for some reason, the paradigm of online pottery videos currently includes this expectation.
I recently read a wonderful little book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. Apparently in Japan, attending seminars is a popular life-long activity for Japanese adults. When Kondo is helping her clients take control of the clutter in their homes, she frequently finds piles of paperwork generated by these seminars.
“People often insist, “I want to restudy these materials sometime,” but most never do so. Moreover, the majority of them usually have materials for multiple seminars on the same or similar subjects. Why? Because what they learned at the seminars did not stick. I am not saying this as a criticism, but merely to point out why it isn’t worth keeping materials from past seminars. If the content is not put into practice, such courses are meaningless.
When you attend a seminar, do so with the resolve to part with every handout distributed. If you regret recycling it, take the seminar again, and this time apply the learning. It’s paradoxical, but I believe that precisely because we hang on to such materials, we fail to put what we learn into practice.”
In other words, if you have access to the lesson forever, you are under no pressure to learn it. Being willing to accept the time limit means you are being accountable for your side of the two-way street.
When somebody rents one of my videos, they watch it multiple times in the 30 day rental period. This is what I want and expect from a student. To rent a video only when you are prepared to give the lesson your attention and time. To study and practice it intensely while you can. At the end of the rental period, you have put the lesson into practice, and become a different potter.
Again, I understand this is different from the current paradigm, where you stumble upon a free YouTube video, that may or may not be relevant to your current stage of learning, may or may not provide actual instruction, but you watch it anyways mostly for entertainment purposes. Why not, it’s free.
My goal here is not to entertain you, or to seek attention for myself. There’s no meaning in that. My goal is for those who rent the videos to actually learn! I want to spawn a new generation of happy and highly-skilled potters. Now that would be a legacy to be proud of. Therefore, I have no plans to change the pricing or the time limit. I’m only trying to attract students for whom this new paradigm makes sense. Honestly, I don’t need the money or more attention on my business. In fact, although I’ve promised to produce five more videos before the end of 2017, I’m worried about finding time to do it. My summer pottery sales were kind-of insane, and now I need to play catch up on inventory for the fall.