A guide to Origami Classes

Cartoon by Rikki Donachie

We all started somewhere and know the struggles that origami can give you. Nobody expects you to be an expert and everyone wants you to succeed! Here are a few tips on how to get the best from a class.

Check your level
Try not to get in over your head, it won’t help your confidence and may slow down the others.

Be prompt
The classes are all carefully timed, so being ready to fold on time really helps everyone.

Get help
If you’re struggling with a step, watch what your neighbours are doing. Ask for help, from others or the teacher.

Be honest
If you’re clearly not going to complete the fold, there’s no shame in stopping. The teacher may be available to give you one-on-one  help outside of the class.

Respect the class
If the class is full, you will need to find another class. Try not to talk too much during the class, it can distract. Equally, encourage people around you if you can!

Some things to think about…

  1. Most importantly, Don’t get in over your head; take classes at a level that you know you can fold. A typical class is not the place to try to “stretch” your folding ability, because you will hold up the class if you cannot keep up. The place to stretch out is in a very small class or a one-on-one session.
  2. If you are clearly below the class level, the teacher may ask you to “just watch”. In practice, it is extremely hard for a teacher to throw you to the wolves, so most of the class ends up waiting for you, bad for your karma and their mood!
  3. Show up on time. If you’re late, either the teacher leaves you behind, which is no fun for you, or the entire class waits for you to catch up, which is no fun for them.
  4. Don’t fill waiting time by folding something else; you will cause the teacher to wait thinking you are behind his step and so delay the entire class.
  5. If you want to record your step folds, first ask the teacher if this is OK. Then use a digital camera to shoot pictures of your folding. It is not OK to make people wait while you try to draw diagrams.
  6. Watch what your neighbors are doing. If your model differs from theirs, actively compare what you’re doing; one of you is wrong, and the one who’s right should be helping the other. If you can’t figure out who’s right, ask the teacher.
  7. If the teacher is helping one individual, wait till he/she is done before you ask for their attention. Asking “is this right?” while his/her back is turned to you will not lead to a correct answer and annoys both the teacher and the other people who are waiting patiently. Compare your fold with a neighbour first.
  8. If you are done and others are still struggling, don’t strike up a loud conversation, it’s hard for those still working to engage in a discussion of what they need to do.
  9. Please be silent when the teacher is talking – it is very distracting to other students and you may miss the next step.
    Don’t try to do or anticipate the next step. You may be wrong, and some teachers take particular delight in catching the unwary.
  10. Don’t ask, “is the next step X?” If the next step is X, the teacher will almost certainly tell you at the appropriate time.
  11. Don’t handle another person’s paper unless you have asked, AND they have given permission. People come to classes to learn how to fold something with their own hands, not to watch someone else’s hands fold their model.
  12. If many people are having trouble and you’re not, you can help by offering aid to those around you who are struggling; but per previous advice, offer first, and wait for acceptance of your offer before you dive in.
  13. If you are falling behind, ask the teacher politely to wait. Don’t wait until you’re many steps behind, because the odds that you’ll miss something grow as you try to catch up. (And you may never catch up.)
  14. Equally, if you have trouble with a specific step, ask the teacher before he/she proceeds with the next step. It is difficult for an teacher to teach several maneuvers at once.
  15. If you’re clearly over your head, you may leave the class or sit and watch the others; there’s no shame in it, and the teacher might be available to give you some one-on-one help outside of class.
  16. Even though there are very few folders with physical disabilities or hearing impairments, be sensitive to their need to pay more attention to the teachers and to their own folding before you interrupt or distract them.

Adapted with permission from an OUSA document

More resources
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Rabbit by Stephen O'Hanlon