Up until now this blog has been mostly about teaching young people to embroider. Counted thread embroidery is always the focus as it is kind to the learner ………and the teacher too actually. I will not stray far from this subject matter in this post but I have come to realize after reading Tom Friedman’s description of what a blog should try to do ………..that I need to do more, say more, require more of my readers, if there are any, and generally stick my neck out; educationally speaking .
So…what is it I think I know, that most teachers and administrators do not know.
I know that embroidery in the classroom is an amazing tool to teach so many different skills simultaneously. I cannot understand why embroidery is not embraced as a mandatory, curriculum addition for second and third grade. Well, yes I can understand it, because most teachers and administrators are looking at different things. Time is short, tests are hard, expectations are high, reading is essential, math is fundamental, science is our future. Who in their right mind would think that embroidery in the classroom was a good use of the students’ time. Me. And I am in my right mind.
Here’s what I know: I know that when I put fabric, needle and thread in a student’s hands I have their absolute undivided attention. I know that they are learning with their hands and their hands are teaching their brains things that cannot be learned any other way.
I know that in order to thread a needle and make even one stitch requires total focus. That the student’s spacial awareness, ability to visualize three dimensionally, and to follow instructions are all at full stretch…..there is total silence in the classroom as the students engage their hands and their brains to make one simple cross stitch.
I know that to make one stitch is a huge deal and elicits squeals of delight at a new skill. I know that because embroidery is really repetition that if a student can make one stitch then they can make a thousand stitches. And I know that repetition and its predictability makes something that felt horribly difficult suddenly manageable. The feelings of accomplishment are palpable.
I know now that having mastered the skill to make a stitch the student feels empowered to continue. I can see the excitement on their faces. “Now I can do this what else can I do?”
I have a ready answer for that. I know that when a student takes their new skill and learns to apply it to a charted design then the learning really takes off.
The little trees at the top of this post are the first projects of the third graders. In order to achieve this result they needed, focus, dexterity, persistence, accuracy, math, spatial awareness and above all focus. Embroidery trains the brain and builds the neural pathways needed for achievement at everything else….and the students don’t care about any of that….they are just have a wonderful time being creative.