The new SCA harassment policy and A&S activities

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Clarification, please, about implementing the new SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy. Do we need to post the policy at locally sponsored activities? Like our monthly craft night?”

A reply from the Minister:

The short answer is “yes”.

And that “yes” is not just for A&S activities. This goes for any SCA sponsored activity. This includes weekly meetings, craft nights, demonstrations, fighter practices, and the rest that your local branch is hosting.

Bullying and harassment can happen anywhere. We all know this. It doesn’t just happen at weekend events.

I ask people to do three things: have fun, teach, and learn.

People cannot do any of these things if they are experiencing an environment of harassment and bullying.

It is important that we let people know that they have resources. It is important that we reassure people that the SCA is a safe, supportive, and welcoming group. It is important that we commit to this policy.

Please do not think of this as “work”. Please do not think of this as something that is “hard to do” or “taking away from the fun”.

This is really easy to do.

You can just print out the bullet points onto a piece of paper once and then remember to bring it with you. Tape it up when you are running your branch-hosted activity. That’s all it takes.

Now…

For anyone who needs to understand the details, here are the particulars for a longer answer:

The SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy:

http://socsen.sca.org/the-sca-harrassment-and-bullying-policy/

Specifically:

The following statement must be posted at gate/troll at every SCA event in a size large enough for people to see it as they enter our events. This language must likewise be quoted in ALL site handouts at every event a site where a handout is made available.

* THE SCA PROHIBITS HARASSMENT AND BULLYING OF ALL INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS.
* Participants engaging in this behavior are subject to appropriate sanctions.
* If you are subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, or if you become aware of anyone being harassed or bullied, contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or your Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman.

The Organizational Handbook, Including Corpora, the By-Laws, Corporate Policies, and the Articles of Incorporation:

http://sca.org/docs/pdf/govdocs.pdf

Specifically:

II. Events
A. Society Events Defined
The term “Society event” refers to tournaments, feasts, and other activities whereby participants can display the results of their researches into the culture and technology of the period in an environment which evokes the atmosphere of the pre-17th century European Middle Ages and Renaissance. It also refers to educational activities involving either one-time classes or ongoing Society university organizations, and meetings where participants share skills or discuss the business of the group. All Society events must be sponsored by official branches of the Society, registered with the Seneschal of the sponsoring branch, publicized at least to the members of that branch, and conducted according to Society rules.

Please keep in mind:

These policies are subject to change. The organization changes and our policies change with it.

You may support these policies. You may want more out of them. You may not be happy with them. You are always welcome to send your feedback to the Society directly. Take that opportunity.

Please set aside your personal feelings and understand that it is important to follow the rules of our organization.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Overcoming language barriers in A&S

Une question adressée au Ministre A&S du Royaume, Maître Philip White:
“Comment devrais-je encourager les francophones a créer plus de documentation s’ils ne peuvent lire ou écrire l’anglais?”
Une réponse du Ministre:
Laissez-moi adresser quelques points méritant attention dans cette question.
Premièrement, personne n’est obligé de créer une documentation ou même de faire de la recherche. Il est possible d’apprécier beaucoup d’aspects de la SCA sans jamais mettre l’accent sur les études historiques.
Créer une documentation et faire de la recherche peuvent être amusants. Nous sommes membres d’une organisation historique. En apprendre plus au sujet de l’histoire que nous étudions peut être intéressant. J’encouragerais tous et chacun à découvrir les aspects plaisants d’effectuer de plus amples recherches, et d’ensuite documenter leurs trouvailles pour les autres.
La recherche peut consister en la lecture de documents académiques. Ou ce pourrait être lire un livre. Ou ce pourrait être de regarder des photos sur l’Internet. Effectuer de la recherche n’a pas à impliquer de la lecture – il est possible de rechercher en bricolant et en expérimentant ! Il existe beaucoup de flexibilité dans la profondeur que vous souhaitez donner à votre recherche. Au final, vous apprendrez plus à propos de notre histoire. Et la façon dont vous apprenez devrait être divertissante pour vous.
La documentation peut consister en l’écriture d’un travail académique. Ou la publication d’un blog. Ou ce pourrait être de publier des photos sur Facebook. Peut-être de faire un vidéo, ou un enregistrement de baladodiffusion (podcast). Encore ici, il est aisé de décider de la profondeur que vous souhaitez donner à votre documentation. Au final, vous partagez et enseignez plus à propos de l’histoire. Et la manière dont vous partagez et enseignez votre savoir devrait être plaisante pour vous.
Toutes les choses mentionnées précédemment peuvent être réalisées dans n’importe quelle langue. Je peux vous assurer qu’il existe de nombreux historiens parlant français. Ils recherchent, écrivent et enseignent tous en français.
Donc, en tant que personne francophone, je vous encouragerais a trouver ce que vous aimez des périodes qui constituent notre champ d’études, recherchez (apprenez) plus de choses à leur sujet, et ensuite, documentez (enseignez) ce que vous avez appris.
Ensuite, permettez-moi de répondre à la partie concernant l’anglais. Si j’ai bien compris, il existe une inquiétude selon laquelle une audience anglophone ne donnerait aucune valeur à un travail de documentation effectué en français. Il existe une perception selon laquelle le travail effectué par des francophones serait automatiquement mal coté si jugé par des anglophones.
C’est vrai. Il y a naturellement une barrière de langue entre les gens quand au moins l’un d’entre eux n’est pas bilingue.
Il est aussi vrai que la majorité des individus dans la SCA sont principalement des anglophones et aucunement bilingues.
Laissez-moi être clair.
Je ne veux pas que les barrières de langue deviennent un point de découragement pour les individus ne parlant pas l’anglais.
Demandez de l’aide. Laissez-nous savoir comment nous pouvons vous accommoder.
Parlez-vous seulement français ? Et vous souhaitez entrer dans un Championnat d’Arts et Sciences ? Dites-le nous. Nous travaillerons avec une traduction de votre documentation écrite, ainsi que des interprètes afin de juger votre travail.
Peut-être est-ce une autre langue. Communiquez-vous au travers de l’ASL ? Nous lirons alors votre documentation écrite et pourrons faire usage d’un interprète ou de textes pour juger de votre travail.
Êtes-vous moins familiers avec les termes académiques ou techniques ? Alors nous pourrons travailler avec vous afin de traduire ces termes en vocabulaire laïc.
Encore une fois, laissez-moi être très clair.
Notre but est d’éliminer les barrières qui pourraient empêcher certaines personnes d’apprécier les arts et sciences.
Dites-nous comment nous pouvons vous aider. Nous pouvons aider.
Vous pouvez m’envoyer un courriel a moas@eastkingdom.org, ou m’envoyer un message privé ici sur Facebook.
Souvenez-vous… Ayez du plaisir ! Apprenez ! Enseignez !
Votre humble serviteur,
~p.w.
English Translation:
A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:
“How should I encourage French-speaking people to do more documentation when they can’t read or write English.”
A reply from the Minister:
Let me answer a few things that are popping up in this question.
First off, no one is required to do documentation or even research. You can enjoy lots of the SCA without ever focusing on historical studies.
Documentation and research can be fun. We’re members of a historically based organization. Learning more about the history we are studying can be fun. I would encourage everyone to find the fun parts of first researching more and then documenting it for others.
Research could be reading academic papers. Or if could be reading a book. Or it could be browsing pictures on the Internet. Research doesn’t even have to involve reading – you can research by tinkering and experimenting! There is a lot of flexibility in how involved you can make your research. In the end, you learn more about history. And the way you learn should be fun for you.
Documentation could be writing a paper. Or publishing a blog. Or it could be posting pictures on facebook. Maybe you make a video or do a podcast. Again, there is a lot of flexibility in how involved you can make your documentation. In the end, you are sharing with and teaching more about history. And the way you share and teach should be fun for you.
Everything above here can be done in any language. I can assure you that there are French-speaking historians. They research, write, and teach all in French.
So, as a French-speaking individual, I would encourage you to find what you like about the time periods we study, research (learn) more about them, and then document (teach) what you have learned.
Next up, let me reply about to that part about English.
If I read into that correctly, there is a concern that an English-speaking audience would not value any work on documentation done in French. There is a perception that work by French-speaking people would not do well when judged by English-speaking individuals.
It is true. There is going to be a natural language barrier between people where at least one of them is not bilingual.
It is also true that the majority of SCA individuals are primarily English-speaking and not bilingual.
Please let me be clear here.
I do not want language barriers to be an actual inhibitor to non-English speaking individuals.
Ask for help. Let us know how we can accommodate you.
Do you only speak French? And you want to enter A&S Champions? Let us know. We will work with a translation of your written documentation and interpreters for your judging experience.
Perhaps it is another language. Do you communicate through ASL? Then we will read your written documentation and can use interpreters or text for your judging experience.
Are you not experienced with academic or scholarly terms? Then we can work with you to translate them into laymen’s terminology.
Again, let me be clear here.
Our goal is to eliminate barriers that may inhibit individuals from enjoying the arts and sciences.
Tell us how we can help. We can help.
Email me at moas@eastkingdom.org. Or message me here on Facebook.
Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!
Your Servant to Command, ~p.w.

Controlling participants in an A&S activity

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I am running an A&S activity. There is a person that I do not want involved. Can I stop them from participating?”

A reply from the Minister:

I’ll reply to this with some caution. Questions like these are likely loaded with a lot of personal circumstances and they do not come with an easy answer.

Are you hosting this A&S activity for your local group? Is it to be an SCA function? Or is this going to be a private matter separate from official SCA activities?

Is this a private activity?

Your private activities are your own affair. You’re welcome to make plans and limit participation, as you need it. These activities would be outside of the SCA and your own responsibility.

Is this an SCA activity?

We’re an open organization. We welcome members and newcomers alike. Please keep an open door as much as possible.

That said? We are also volunteers. We need to keep people safe and comfortable.

Now, there are a variety of A&S activities you may be running. Here are two examples that may come up.

Are you hosting an A&S night at your home?

Of course you need to be careful about who comes into your personal space. If you are not comfortable sharing your address with strangers in your home you may instead want to find a separate venue. If you have individual conflicts with existing members you may want to set up conversations with independent people to mediate issues.

If you’re not able to welcome all people, that’s okay. You do not have to welcome everyone into your home. Set your activity up as a private event, then, so that you are able to control your space and not cause conflicts within the group.

Also be prepared that others in the group may set up the same kind of activity in order to welcome the whole populace. That’s okay too. A private activity and a group activity can exist at the same time if it needs to.

Are you running a competition at an event?

Publish your entrant rules. Set up restrictions or expectations as you need them. You can require original work or documentation or only beginners. Those things are okay. Or perhaps entrants have to meet the expectations of the Crown or local Nobility. That could be okay too.

If a person then qualifies you would allow them to enter.

Still. You may have judges that would not feel comfortable judging the individual. We’re all volunteers. We are not going to force ourselves to do things we are not comfortable doing. So, try to find a judge that is okay with working with the individual. Do not force people into positions that would be difficult to manage.

As I said, these are just a few examples. Please treat each instance individually. Ask for help. Talk to your local Seneschal and your up-line A&S Ministers. Figure out what your options are and go from there.

This is all kept in balance. We’re providing a welcoming and safe environment for all individuals, both visitors and volunteers.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Note, I have not addressed individuals who have received a Revocation and Denial of Membership (R&D). These people are not involved with the SCA in any function. People also receiving Banishment may have limitations on their participation. SCA rules apply in these situations.

Note, also, there may be modern legal circumstances that affect participation. Legal direction will always be followed first.

Just like getting a PhD?

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“They say that getting a Laurel is equal to getting a Ph.D. but is that really true?”

A reply from the Minister:

I’ve heard that comparison, too. Probably most of us have.

If I think about it, the description happens more when people are trying to describe the award/recognition structure of the SCA to brand new members. And, someone who is not a member of the Order of the Laurel usually gives that comparison.

The association is well intentioned. And, on the surface, it seems like an easy way to help people get an idea of what happens within our structure of recognition.

So, let me be clear here. These things are not equivalent.

Being made a member of the Order of the Laurel is not the same as earning a Ph.D..

While requirements for being awarded an earned doctorate degree vary by institution, they will all involve combinations of intense levels of academic study, coursework, examinations, and original research of a quality ready for scholarly publication all of which is reviewed and approved by the institution.

It is important to me that we respect these educational institutions that award Ph.D.s along with the work that these people do when earning their degrees. I do not want to under represent these accomplishments.

It is a different process and a different level of expectation. They are not the same thing.

As I said, the association is well intentioned. I understand why it is made. The way people become members of the Order of the Laurel can be complicated. This feels like an easy way to help people understand.

Being recognized as a member of the Order of the Laurel is a different process. Candidates are focused on scholarship, research, creation, and teaching with an expectation of mastery within the arts and sciences. The Crown will take feedback from the existing members of the Order on potential candidates. The Crown then makes their decision on what new people will become Laurels.

To become a Laurel you are not expected to do Ph.D. level work. You are not required to publish a dissertation or produce an equivalent level of work.

Candidates are expected to produce a high level of work. That’s true. And we will call that “mastery” within the SCA.

Research and documentation can and will be an important part of that process. To aspiring artisans, and their friends, it may feel like they are expected to write a dissertation. That is not what is being requested.

Please don’t let it sound like I am taking anything away from the artisans of the Society or the existing members of the Laurel. They are doing great work. They are doing great research. And they are publishing important scholarship.

There are people now who will earn a Ph.D. in the SCA but be recognized as a Laurel. There are people who will become Laurels that will never do the work related to earning a Ph.D.. There are also many people who will achieve one first and then become the other. All of those are valid options.

What I do not want happening is people getting discouraged from working towards a personal goal of being recognized as a Laurel because they hear that they have to do the work equal to a doctorate degree. That’s not the case.

So, instead, let me suggest when you are talking to new people, be comfortable saying, “The Order of the Laurel is the highest level of recognition we have for people interested in the arts and sciences.”

That’s a fair an accurate statement. And it easily complements the people who are members of the Order. And it happily gives people something good and dignified to work towards.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

A&S officers, reports, and you

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Getting mentioned on the A&S Officer reports means I will get recognized, right?”

A reply from the Minister:

We love to hear about everyone and everything on A&S reports.

We want to learn about individual projects. We want to read about group activities. We want to hear about guilds and displays and competitions. We want to hear about collegia and workshops. We want to learn about classes or largesse projects.

We want to hear that people are having fun together, are learning from each other, and are teaching each other.

All of this goes into an A&S report for administrative purposes.

The A&S officers are helping track the health of groups through arts and sciences activities. We’re looking to see if people need support or help within the organization. We’re looking to see how one group might help out a neighboring group. We want to share successes and foster the arts.

Our primary goal when we do these reports is not to provide recognition for individuals.

Could that recognition also happen? Possibly. But that’s not the purpose of the report.

The local A&S officer is now sending reports to a few people. They report to their regional officer, their local seneschal, their Landed Nobility if they have them, and their Baronial or Provincial A&S officer if they have one.

So, as a result of reporting, a name and/or certain projects could be noticed. Recognition could even come from that notice. But it doesn’t mean that it will.

There are ways that we as A&S officers can help people get noticed. We write letters to the Royalty and submit recommendations for polling orders. We write letters to our local newsletters. We post on social media. We talk to people and share good works.

We as A&S officers have the same access to these tools and resources that anyone has.

All of us can write the Royalty. All of us can submit award recommendations. The Royalty may or may not choose to grant an award. Your local Nobility may or may not choose to grant your local group’s award. Awards are just one way for people to receive recognition.

All of us can publish word fame. All of us can sing the praises of our fellow artisans.

That’s how recognition comes about. It’s not from a report.

Recognition comes from people thanking each other and respecting each other. It is from people noticing each other and taking the time to share how they feel.

We can all make that happen.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Asking an expert to teach you

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I want to learn a new art. I asked a Laurel to teach me but they were reluctant. I want to learn! Aren’t they supposed to be an expert? Why won’t they help me?”

A reply from the Minister:

One of the first things I heard about the SCA was that you could ask almost anyone about almost anything and they would teach you how to do it.

It is a wonderfully romantic idea. It is certainly one worth working towards. But, when you think about it, that’s a tall order!

Let’s be realistic. And consider the circumstances.

How best to start to get your answer?

Ask that Laurel why they’re not up to teaching. They’re going to give you best answer for their situation.

Still, there are some common reasons why Laurels, or really anyone who is an artist, may not want to teach a class.

First off, teaching is both a talent and a skill. Not everyone is born with the natural inclination to be a teacher. Not everyone has been trained in the skill set it takes to be a good teacher.

By the time someone is elevated to the Order of the Laurel they generally have a good idea of their own expertise and limitations. They may simply know that they do not make a good teacher.

It may also be that they are less confident working with beginners. Some artisans are better at teaching people who are already somewhat experienced. They may be best at teaching advanced or masters classes instead of entry level or how to classes.

And lastly? People are people. That Laurel or artist may just not be in good shape to teach.

They may be out of practice. They may not be feeling confident. They may be tired from lots of work. Or they may have family stresses. Or some other obligation altogether.

Or maybe they are just shy. I know that may be surprising. They are a Laurel after all. Part of their role is to share knowledge. They might go about fulfilling that role in other ways, though, than teaching classes or working with people one-on-one. They may teach people through publications instead.

You shouldn’t take it personally.

If they can’t teach you then maybe they know someone who can. Just ask! There’s help out there for you.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Choosing Pennsic A&S War Point Champions

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“How are the Champions for the Arts and Sciences War Point at Pennsic War chosen?”

A reply from the Minister:

Thank you for asking! It makes sense that people would want to know how it works. Unless you’ve asked someone involved it would look like a bit of a mystery.

As I have committed to transparency in this office, I’ll try my best to answer now. I hope this reply helps people understand how it has been working so far. (Of course, all this may change next year! We’ll do our best to keep people informed then too.)

Now, we’ve only held this A&S War Point twice. This year will be the third time. We do not have a lot of history to say, “This is the way things are”.

Each year the War Point rules have been different. And each year the Champions have been chosen in a different way.

So it would be easy to be confused and not know the process.

Before I go too far, let me remind you. This is a War Point.

The Crown and other principals of the War first decide the whole process through negotiation. The Crown then decides on how process is handled in the East. They are fitting this into all of the war point negotiations and scheduling for the war.

And it may help to know what has happened in the past.

The first year the Champions were chosen directly by the Crown.

The second year the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Minister provided a set of proposed individuals to the Crown. The Crown then decided on the Champions.

This year, the Crown named an Arts and Sciences War Point General, Meisterin Agatha Wanderer (Rachel Case). That General then consulted with other individuals, including the Kingdom Arts and Sciences Minister, and provided a set of proposed individuals to the Crown. The Crown then decided on the Champions.

It is also the East’s custom that the King’s Champion and the Queen’s Champion are by design considered part of the Pennsic A&S War Point Team. Note there, that the Crown for Pennsic is not the Crown who chooses these Champions. The Pennsic Crown gives input while they are Heirs but it is not their decision. The Arts and Sciences War Point General and the Crown will consult with the Champions about their participation at the War.

Yes, okay. So that’s technically how it happens.

There’s more. I will not leave you hanging! For the most part I’ll focus on this year’s process.

So you may also be asking yourself, “Why this team?”

To understand how the individuals are chosen it is important to know the rules of the competition.

This year the War Point entries must be anonymous, may not be food or a performance, and must be a newly created item not previously entered. There can be no more than two Laurels. The winning side is then determined by a popularity contest of all the people attending the War.

That makes for a difficult challenge for the General. Right?

Prospective Champions are given a hard task. You’re asking these people to make something completely new. You’re asking them to make that new thing in less than four months. You’re asking them to keep it anonymous as they work on their entry.

You’re also looking for prospective Champions that appeal to all of the people at Pennsic.

Let that settle in for a moment. Everyone at Pennsic.

And these people only view these entries for a few moments. Few people actually take the time to carefully review each entry and consider the research and skill these artisans put into their works.

That means we’re now in the challenging position of finding entries that can appeal to everyone voting and capture a win vote within a very short amount of time from a populace not usually trained in artistic evaluation.

So add that to the hard task these prospective Champions face. They have already been asked to enter brand new work anonymously. We’re also asking them to accept being judged by a popularity vote by all of Pennsic after only a short review time. It means that their hard work is likely going to be seen by hundreds of people who never know their name or be able to praise them for a job well done.

But here’s the difference from Pennsic A&S Champions and other A&S activities like King’s and Queen’s A&S Champion.

At Pennsic? You’re not there for yourself. You’re not showing as an individual. And your personal renown is not your first goal.

Your first goal as a Pennsic A&S War Point Champion is helping the East Kingdom to win Pennsic War.

It is an unfortunate circumstance that competitions like this do not necessarily recognize the most interesting or complex arts and research that we do in the SCA. We know that.

Negotiations are hard. Pennsic has a long history. And this is only the third year that we have this A&S War Point as part of the war. There is both room for change and improvement. You have to be “in the room where it happens”. We should be happy that the arts and sciences are at least represented with a war point. That’s already an improvement.

We have lots of amazing artists and researchers making incredible works and publishing really interesting finds that would never be right for this kind of competition. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with what they are doing. It just means that what they are doing is not matching up to what the competitions is asking for of entries.

You may have also asked yourself, “Why not take volunteers? Why are there not tryouts?”

The Arts and Sciences War Point is not quite like other War Points. You may be thinking about how the fighting teams have been chosen from regional practices or tryouts. That’s good for them because they are directly fighting against other people. Who wins is directly decided between the combatants. Further, these people will be working together. They need to get used to training together and working as a team.

There’s another difference. The fighters have a good expectation about how their war points will work and what the rules may be. It can change, of course, but they have history to work off of as a starting point.

For the Arts and Sciences War Point we simply don’t know. We don’t have a history. We can make requests and recommendations to the different Crowns each year but it is still a growth process and we are learning what works best for the War.

Because of timing with negotiations, it has been hard for us to manage scheduling something like tryouts or a competition. The Kingdom calendar is already very packed. Asking for more space to fit in another event or to add something to an existing event has not worked out yet.

Instead, the proposed Champions have been artists that are actively producing work, have been known to do well-researched and skilled items, and are available to attend Pennsic. The proposed Champions are also representing different regions of the Kingdom and different arts of our community.

They are not only people who are entering competitions. They are not only people who score well at Kingdom A&S, or show well at Laurels’ Prize Tourney, or win Baronial Championships. Those people are considered of course. Artisans who show their work through blogs, on social media, or donate work to Crown and Kingdom are also considered.

This is all a lot? Right?

The A&S General has a hard job. The artisans have a hard job. I think that they are going to be successful this year and that the East is going to represent the arts and sciences wonderfully.

Want to help? Visit the A&S War Point. Spend real time looking at the entries. Vote for the entries that show great skill and exceptional research.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

 

Teaching a Class

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Am I allowed to teach a class?”

A reply from the Minister:

Do you have something to teach? Then Yes!

You are allowed to teach! Welcome even!

The SCA is built on sharing information. Our organization’s success depends on people’s willingness to learn and then share their knowledge as teachers. The more we encourage people to teach, the stronger we become as a whole.

You’re not required to be in the SCA for a certain amount of time. You’re not required to have certain awards. You’re not required to hold modern degrees or experience. You’re not required to be a certain age. You’re not required to have prior teaching experience.

You just need to have a willingness to share.

Many of us start teaching with very little experience. Both as artists and as teachers. We end up learning our arts in more detail and how to be more effective teachers through volunteering repeatedly and getting better over time.

We learn. Our early classes are not always good. We may have not figured out the best way to explain a subject. We may have not learned the more common pitfalls of our art. We may not have practiced our communication skills.

That’s okay. As long as you are trying your best your audiences will typically understand. It is worth letting your students know that you are just learning and that you are open to feedback. You can learn from them as they are learning from you.

It is important to respect your students. They value their time in the SCA and they are looking forward to learning from you. That means you should take care with your class preparation and research. Your audience will appreciate you all the more for it.

Now, where you teach? That’s another matter.

You could offer your class at your home. Maybe your local branch offers a class series and you can volunteer to be part of that. You might be able to offer a class at a local event. You can volunteer at a colleguim or university too. Pennsic and the other wars are also great options.

Keep in mind, that while you are very welcome to teach, your class may not be appropriate for every venue.

Please do not get discouraged if you are politely turned down. And please do not take it personally. There are likely many other reasons that your class may not fit well into an event.

Some activities are theme specific. A Cooks Collegium will prioritize cooking classes over an embroidery class.

Some events have limited space. A one-hour session will be prioritized over an all-day class in order to offer more options.

Some events are audience specific. A Newcomers Event will prioritize “How to” classes over an advanced research class.

Some events do not have the space or equipment needed to support a class. A fighting focused event may not have a room to hold classes.

Activity organizers are not trying to deny you an opportunity. They are trying to plan for an overall event. Every organizer will be different. They will all work a little bit differently and they may ask different things of you as a teacher.

In the end their goal is simply to make the best activity possible that creates a good learning atmosphere for students and a worthwhile destination for teachers. They want to make a good time happen as much as you do.

Be patient and look for good opportunities for your class offerings. Sometimes you need to create those opportunities for yourself. And that’s okay. Much of the time you’ll find you can fit right into a schedule with everyone else.

Remember. Also be aware if there are any special requirements for the class you are teaching. Are you giving a youth class? Are you working with food? Are you working with hazardous materials? Are you teaching certain martial arts? Some of these will have certain rules and restrictions based off of your group and the event location. Simply ask!

A final note. Please do not be discouraged with low, or maybe even no, attendance. Try not to take that personally, too. It all depends on the event and the day and the people that are there. Sometimes you work really hard to get a class ready and then no one shows up.

It could be that people are obligated to serve other parts of the event and are sad to miss your class. It might be that they’ve already learned what you are teaching. Or, simply, it could be that they are not interested in your subject.

Try to be okay with all of those reasons. Some of my best teaching moments were to only one or two people.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Recovering from a Damaged Reputation

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Honesty? I feel like my name is mud. I know I made some mistakes in my past but I think I’ve improved. Yet I don’t think people see how I’ve changed. It feels like I am on a blacklist. I don’t think I’m ever given a fair chance. Why should I even bother?”

A reply from the Minister:

Does it mean something to you? Then you should bother. Do you think there is still fun out there? Then it is worth pursuing. You’ve changed for a reason.

You’ve made improvements. Don’t stop now. Keep going.

But only if you want to. It’s okay if you don’t. It’s ok if you do.

Questions like this are really complicated. Let’s look at it a little closer and consider a few things.

Personally, I would start with self-assessment.

Be honest with yourself. What was the mistake? What did you do? And how did you improve?

It happens. We all have moments we are not proud of and overcoming those can be hard.

Maybe we entered something that didn’t fit into a competition. Maybe we didn’t cite our sources well. Maybe we didn’t listen to constructive feedback when we asked for it. Maybe we used some poor language. Maybe we hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe we fought with a judge. Maybe we were not honest.

Really. It happens. I know. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth any number of times.

But part of learning how to improve is being honest with yourself about what you did. Have you really changed? Have you asked for forgiveness? Have you shown contrition?

That’s always my first step.

After you’ve checked in with yourself, what next? Check in with people you trust. Talk to your friends and family. Listen.

Talk through what happened. Talk through what you think you’ve done to improve. Talk about where you think you made a mistake and how you want to do better in the future. Listen to what they have to say. Really listen. Perform another self-assessment and see if there is something more to work on.

That said they are your friends and family. They love you. They will do their best by you. It doesn’t mean that they are trained in giving good feedback. Keep in mind that they have a positive bias towards you and may not give you objective feedback. Still it is a good and safe space to start and gather support.

Once you’ve taken those steps then try something else. Talk to the people you think you’ve had trouble with in the past. Will that be hard to do? Maybe. But it will also be worth it.

Do you need to apologize? Then apologize. Do you need to learn more? Then learn more. Do you need a chance to show the new you? Then show off the new you.

Take you time. It is not a race. Work through at your own pace. Take care and go about it in a way that makes you feel good about your work and about you as a person. It’ll be worth it in the end.

Why do all this?

Because the arts and sciences are super fun. Because learning is fun. Because teaching is fun. Because it makes our organization a better place. Because it makes you a better person. Because it makes our members better people.

This is just what has worked for me. It may not work for you. And you may need to find your own path.

I wouldn’t be surprised if people also share their experiences on how things have worked for them. And people may share advice on other ways to go about it. There might be something there that clicks for you. Follow that.

Now. Did you read this and think, “It is not my problem. It is their problem.”

Okay. Maybe so. Maybe not.

You could be right. Sometimes it is their problem. Sometimes you’re right. Sometimes circumstances are unjust. It does happen.

And if that is the case then you’re right. It is their problem. You can’t control them or change them. But you can keep doing what you are doing and make the most fun despite them.

But some of the time? It’s not their problem. And in that case it is worth starting at the beginning with some honest self-reflection and personal understanding.

Most of time? It is not an either/or. It is not just you. It is not just then. In reality there is going to be issues on both sides. Find your balance and work through it in a way that makes you happy and proud of your own actions.

Still not convinced? Think the system is still out to get you?

It is not.

The system is built up to support people and encourage the organization to grow. The A&S Office does not have a blacklist. The Polling Orders do not have a blacklist. Even the Royal family does not have a blacklist.

Could individuals hold a grudge? Of course. People are people. Sometimes people hold grudges. I will not pretend otherwise. It can and does exist.

And that’s what the members of the SCA are. They are people. Laurels are people. The King and Queen are people. We’re all in the same boat of trying to be the best that we can be and sometimes we make mistakes or get in our own way. People are not always perfect. Even those of us trying to make the SCA a great place.

If that’s the case? So be it. Go about your business. Invest your time in your arts, your research, and the people who value your contributions to the Society. It is sometimes the best we can do.

To close I’ll let you know what I want to see.

I want to see everyone welcomed.

I want to see wonderful partnerships between entrants and judges. I want to see constructive criticism and active listening happening between people who respect and value each other. I want to see people caring and investing in artistic integrity. I want to see us being the best that we can be.

I want this to be our reputation throughout our organization.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

 

Documentation

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Do I really have to do documentation?”

A reply from the Minister:

“No. You don’t have to do documentation.”

Did I surprise you? Did you expect me to say that you had to?

You don’t.

Really. If you never want to do documentation you never have to do documentation.

It’s okay.

I know all sorts of people who go through their entire SCA experience enjoying the arts and sciences and never attempting to document their work.

And you know what? They have lots of fun.

That’s my main goal for people. I want people to have fun within the arts and sciences.

But wait. Maybe I can surprise you again?

Documentation can actually be another part of the fun when you’re working within the arts and science. (I know! I was surprised too!)

Documentation has a bad reputation.

People first think that it has to be some kind of difficult and complex research paper. That it is like homework. That it needs to have footnotes or endnotes or an appendix or any number of things.

It’s true. Documentation can be all of those things. And some people really enjoy putting together an excellently written research paper.

You know what else documentation can be?

It can also just be you talking about how you went about your work. Or it can be when you write down notes about how you crafted a piece. Maybe it is the pictures of your work in process. Maybe it is the books or images or items that you took inspiration from to go about your art.

Documentation is all of those things too.

And that’s a big reason for why documenting your work can be fun. It’s your chance to tell your tale. It is your chance to tell the story of your creation.

And once you start putting that all together then you’re able to be a better teacher, too.

You’re not just talking about the “how” of something. You’re adding on the “what” the “when” and the “why” too. You’re helping others, and also yourself, know how something fits into the actual historical context of the time periods we are studying.

When those things start to “click”, and you’re about to share it with other people, then all of your arts and sciences can be really cool in an entirely different way.

Want help? Let the A&S Office know. We’re here for you.

The A&S office will be rolling out a class on how to research and complete documentation soon. We’ll make it available online by web conference, class notes, and in person. But that’s just a teaser. More to come! No details yet!!

And, if you’re willing to document your work, then that can also open up other opportunities for you, too.

Some competitions require documentation or heavily recommend it. Sometimes you need it in order to teach a class. Sometimes you need it in order to submit your research or artwork for publication.

You don’t have to do any of those things. But, if you want to take part in them, documentation gives you that opportunity.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.