Under the radar:embroidery as a controversial subject!!

Here are four of 75 trees stitched at the beginning of our stitching year. To achieve this the students had to learn how to thread a needle and make a stitch. Big challenge to understand that the thread has to reenter the fabric from the same side from which it exited. These trees represent a considerable advancement in dexterity and spatial awareness. You can feel the mental energy in the room.

As the academic year draws to a close it is a time to reflect on all we have done in the classroom. In my case this is just a reflection of embroidery as an art, craft and teaching aid. I have been volunteering to teach a once a week class to three third grade classes.

First,  it ought to be noted, that I have been teaching embroidery to third graders at the same elememtary school, on and off, since my children were there in the nineties, both as a classroom teacher and a volunteer.  Our modest program has operated under four principals. I think it would be fair to say that the climate has become progressively frigid. There is no global warming to the concept of teaching elementary students to embroider. At one point last year the principal, incited by the fourth grade teachers,  who considered that stitching was wasting the students’ valuable instructional time, directed that all stitching cease in favor of core curriculum instruction.

The third grade teachers, in a way all teachers will understand, decided that the program was too valuable to their students to allow this. So we wrote a core curriculum additive which meant that embroidery was taught as math. And so we carried on.  But, stitching under the radar has its costs. Now we could no longer send letters home requesting a donation for materials.  Let me tell you…..75 eager embroiderers get through the materials.  Especially when Erik loses 5 needles!!

So what was the solution to this funding gap.  Elegantly we side stepped the need for donations by capitalizing on the students’ love of their newly learned craft and their desire to have stitching materials for the long summer vacation. I designed a cross stitch kit of the school logo and sold these for $10 a pop; that, with another kit of just, thread and a variety of fabric called, “Design Your Own” . By encouraging the students to do chores to earn their money and making sure that the students knew that if they brought their money there would be a kit for them. We raised over $650 which, with some kind donations, I hope will cover the costs for next year.  If we are allowed to continue!!

Next post….the benefits of teaching embroidery to children.

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