Why “The Layman’s Institute?”
I chose the name of the website because of an unpleasant situation that occurred many years ago: an older man was condemning the work of a younger man simply because the younger man had not attended the “right school.” No attention was given to the actual quality of his work, nor his proven track record, nor his stellar reputation and character: The final condemnation was that “You don’t want a layman in that position!”
I found that pretty offensive, and thought to myself at the time, that I would rather have a GOOD teacher, worker, craftsman, pastor, or any other such thing, who had proven skills, good character and the heart to get the job done, than a man with “letters behind his name” who was going to play politics, and bad-mouth another man for such a trashy reason, when his own work was actually substandard.
So, when I began writing Bible Commentaries, years later, I entitled each one “A Layman’s Look at … (whatever the epistle or concept in question)” I had decided that, since I was probably going to be “branded” that way anyway, just as the other man had been, then I had better “just grab onto the title and wear it boldly.”
In later years, when I was teaching at work, and some supervisor was really impressed with the class, he would say, “Chet, you ought to be a teacher!” (meaning it as a compliment.) And I answered, “I am a teacher!” The supervisor was startled, but then admitted, “I guess you are!” So the same problem was occurring: I was successfully training men and women to understand their jobs more thoroughly, and giving them the skills to actually do their jobs with greater efficiency and higher quality, but that did not make me a “teacher” in their minds. (By the way, the training involved both classroom teaching and hands-on training. These were college level classes, and I had been simultaneously teaching in the local community college on the side.) It was a little frustrating to constantly run into that barrier, but I enjoyed the teaching well enough and had enough feedback from students who went on to excel, using that training, that I managed to avoid feeling hurt or angry about it. It really was intended as a compliment, but it revealed a misperception that seems prevalent in our culture.
So…no credentials that would impress a publishing company, nor a university to point to. But I will try to provide solid teaching at an understandable level in whatever subjects we visit.
Right now, the options seem to be as follows:
- Workshop Math, including the various measuring and layout tools
- Steel Metallurgy (basic level, including alloys, hardening, annealing, normalizing, quenching and tempering)
- Violin repairs (individual items, including missing wood, varnish re-touch, new pegs, bushing worn peg-holes, etc.)
- Violin Building from scratch (Step-by-step, how I build violins and other instruments)
- Theology and practical Bible application for anyone who has an interest. (Non-demoninational, non-sectarian look at scripture for what it actually says.)
I’m pretty sure I will reach into other interests as well, eventually, possibly including fruit-tree grafting, and various small projects here on the home place.
If some areas prove to be popular, I hope to add some online classes and videos, through YouTube or other platforms.
If you have a particular question, send me an e-mail and, if it something I feel competent to address, I will let you know, and there will be a blog-post coming, sooner or later.
Thanks for looking.