The Springtime of Education

This article originally appeared as the editorial in the Spring 2014 issue of The Stained Glass Quarterly.

As I write this, spring started just a few days ago. There were pellets of ice somewhere between snow and sleet on the windshield when I left the house this morning. Still, that didn’t stop me from picking up (more) seeds and three new seed-starter trays when I went to the home and garden store after lunch today.

Officially, I was there to pick up a few things for the Stained Glass School that will be needed at the next enamels class, which will be held in April. Still, there’s no sense in not making opportunities for multitasking… especially at the lawn and garden store.

Especially in early spring.

If I actually plant all the seeds I have right now, I’ll end up with enough fruits and vegetables to feed a multitude. But that’s not the point. After all, it’s not just about growing fresh fruits and vegetables — although certainly that’s a wonderful side benefit — it’s also about what the seeds represent: possibility. Potential for growth. Potential for the future.

In a certain way, that’s also how I see the SGAA’s Stained Glass School: potential and possibility. After all, the purpose of education is to plant seeds in the mind that will grow into talents and abilities in the student.

In a certain way, anyone can make a stained glass window — not automatically, certainly, but anyone with a reasonable intellect and a reasonable degree of dexterity can be taught to work in stained glass. So what separates just anyone from someone who makes truly beautiful stained glass windows? Raw talent? Temperament? Aptitude?

If success truly is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration, then the willingness to put in the hours of practice and study and the willingness to strive to become better must certainly constitute the majority share of what makes greatness. True education does not produce the final end product; rather, it plants the seed that the student must water in the field of experience if true growth is to be realized. It gives the student tools to use as he builds on the foundation laid.

I believe in the Stained Glass School because I believe in the value of education. Learning can be its own end; some things a person learns are learned simply for the joy of knowing. However, much more frequently, learning is undertaken as a means to an end: one wants to pursue a career making beautiful stained glass windows; therefore, one pursues an education in stained glass so that one can be successful in that career. The foundation is laid in the classroom.

The Stained Glass School has long been a publishing and scholarship-granting body. It is very gratifying now to see it becoming so much more. The classes it offers are building in both diversity and frequency. No longer are they limited strictly to the SGAA’s Annual Summer Conference. Now workshops are made available throughout the year at the SGAA Headquarters just outside of Kansas City.

The seed has been planted, and it will continue to grow. Quality stained glass education from a reputable school is desperately needed in this country; the Stained Glass School has recognized that need and is working to address it in ever-expanding ways.

It truly is the springtime of education in the field of stained glass.

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