Learning Is Taking Risks

This isn’t shameless self -promotion but a big “pat on the back” for my first born.  One of the jobs I’ve applied for in the past few weeks is at an “independent school ” that is run on democratic principles.  This has caused me to put a lot of thought into different learning styles and what the optimum learning environment is for a range of different learners.  A huge factor in successful learning is having an environment that is so supportive and structured in a way that students feel confident enough to take risks, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.  I’ve certainly been doing that with my own learning over the past few months and now Eric has been able to do the same.  He attended a holiday workshop at Threads and More this week in which he had the opportunity to design and create his own soft toy from felt.  Firstly he was the only boy there and it hasn’t occurred to him that sewing and knitting and the sorts of things one does at Threads and More are not necessarily male pursuits so he is entirely non self-conscious.  He was also very comfortable there because he’s accompanied me there a few times to work on his beginner cross stitch piece while I am knitting and the staff there have always given him a really good reception.  He knows that people there are interested in what he is doing and he knows that Adam (the 6 foot chef with dreads in the attached cafe) makes a seriously good strawberry milkshake.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how well he would go in this workshop.  He’s done a small amount of cross stitch and probably some sewing in his pre-school days but that would be it.  He cannot yet tie up his shoelaces tightly enough for them to stay done up.  So I thought he’d blunder through and produce something with intensive support from the lovely Anissa.  The other members of the class as far as I could see copied the examples that Anissa had out on the table or in one case made a friend for the doll she’d made at Christmas.  This is fine and no doubt they did learn a bit more by doing this but copying something was not for Eric.  He got busy with pen and paper and drew a “Turtwig” (a pokemon character whose name I do not know how to spell) and then proceeded to create a 3-D rendering of the creature.  It’s got four legs that stick out from the bottom, a body and embroidered shell.  There are plans for a head and some sort of antenna that sticks out from that.  Annissa asked if I could possible come and knit on Sunday afternoon so that he could come with me and do some more work on it.  I was so proud of him for thinking outside the square and creating something of his own rather than going for the easier option and just copying something that was in front of him even though it was a task he had never attempted before.  Once again the learning environment at Threads and More was just right for him to have confidence and take risks with his learning.

He is bubbling over with enthusiasm since this workshop and has had a big talk to Anthony about how he will continue to accompany me to Threads and More when this Pokemon is finished so that he can make another Pokemon character for Daniel’s 7th birthday.  There is even talk of making something for Grandma to keep on her bed but I can’t imagine what that might be although I suppose we could remind him that Grandma Maureen has a thing for elephants.

In other news, I’ve completed the Lion Stripe Sweater I was knitting for Eric <insert very happy dance here>.  I finished it by about 10:00pm on Wednesday so he could show it off at the shop on Thursday and Daniel modelled it so I could take some photos to upload to Ravelry.  I’m really happy with it and pleased that I was able to stick with it even when the going got tough.  Contrary to Daniel’s wishes I didn’t start his Cowboy Cardigan that night but I did make a start on it the next day while Eric was doing his workshop.  I’m also working on some cotton face cloths to sell on the school Mothers Day stall so there is plenty to do with my knitting sticks!

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