As I have been teaching embroidery to students for many years I have been in a perfect place to notice how learning embroidery affects 7, 8 and 9 year olds.
Firstly, as is probably obvious, putting a needle, thread and fabric in the hands of a child creates in each a variety of different emotions. And as I give out the materials I can see these emotions on their faces. What do I see? Mostly I see curiosity, excitement,( this is a bit out of the ordinary…what’s going on?) Alongside those emotions I see concern, worry, and in a few cases panic. But the overriding atmosphere in the class room is one of intrigued anticipation. ( What on earth does she want us to do with this stuff?)
In order for the student to make a success of their embroidery they have to be able to listen to instructions carefully, follow directions exactly and focus completely on the assigned task….to make one stitch.
Some students do not find these three requirements a challenge. they can listen, do and create without too much difficulty….to their delight. Some students for whom any one of those three is difficult will struggle to complete even one stitch. It is these students for whom embroidery is a slowly opening door.
If they cannot listen then they cannot follow directions…or complete the task. If they listen but without the needed focus they cannot follow the directions or make a stitch and if they can listen and follow directions but lack focus to finish the task as directed they cannot do this either.
Education will have to go through a serious revolution if it is to prepare our students for their working lives. Their future promises to be one of constant change, lifelong learning and adaptability to a workplace which not even the smartest among us can forsee.
Ok…I hear you say…what does this have to do with teaching embroidery to a class of third graders.
Dr. Daniel Goleman wrote a book entitled Focus, the Hidden Driver of Excellence. In his excellent book he describes in detail what it takes to develop focus and how important this attribute will become to our future citizens.
Over the years I have watched embryonic embroiderers grow, develop and master the needed focus to complete their assignment. Embroidery teaches focus. I can see it in action. The students tell me that as soon as they stop focusing they make an error. They are aware of their work, they are thinking about the way they do what they do. Any error is very obvious and very annoying and they are therefore very incentivized not to make errors. How do you not make errors? Answer……….Focus.