I’ve offered a sewing club at school.
Years ago this would have been a much more relaxed group I am sure. However, it is desperately sad that in my experience, year on year children’s hands-on skills are deteriorating. In the past I’ve met children of 7 who have never used sellotape. I have had to deliver scissor skills lessons to 9 year olds. What breaks my heart is watching children stress out about having to do painting or colouring in because it’s too hard.
There are so many reasons why this is happening and I could go on forever. With the availability and cleanliness of games systems and smart phones, it’s probably pretty difficult to convince a child to put down the controller and pick up a craft. No judgement here, Hazel is currently watching youtube clips on her mobile. So if children don’t craft at home, surely they do all that at school don’t they?
Within a couple of generations, primary school education has changed beyond recognition.
If you haven’t spent time in one in the last 5 years, you wouldn’t recognise it. I wish I knew who had said it, but one chap said once, we sit our children indoors and expect them to do low grade clerical work all day and wonder why they get hyperactive, inattentive and develop behaviour problems. No, they’re not finger painting, they’re not running around outside playing conkers. Our children from as young as 5 are sitting down all day filling in exercise books all mornings and sitting in target groups, booster groups and challenge groups throughout the afternoon. Thank goodness PE breaks up the week for the poor souls. I am so lucky that I get to work in a school that is a little more old fashioned and we can still provide variety. But we can only do that because we have the gift of sitting in a good place in the league tables so Ofsted leave us alone for a bit longer. If you’re school is anything less than good, craft will be reserved for the week before Christmas. A blob of PVA and glitter Miss? May my imagination run wild.
Yes, I could rant about this for ages, but let me try and get to my point.
Children are not doing making, crafting, designing or using their imaginations anywhere near as much as they need to at school.
So I want to offer what I can outside of teaching hours. I am going to take the plunge and try and teach a group of 10 year olds how to sew. Thankfully, I have help from my friend Jane, who keeps reigning me in when I get too excited – you know it will take 6 weeks to get the bag finished don’t you? She’s right. A drawstring bag. Drawing straight lines, measuring, cutting with scissors, following instructions (oh lord a hot iron!). It’s a lot to teach, but I am going to give it a try.
Jade, the girl with the bright red hair and runner up on The Great British Sewing Bee has started a campaign to get more skills teaching in schools and colleges. I hope she makes some headway.
Fact is, crafts of any kind develop creativity, dexterity, problem-solving, confidence and do wonders for mental health.
I hope in my small way I can make a difference to the children I work with, but I will need a barrel load of patience and a small tipple when I get home!