Friday, 22 May 2009

What do they teach them in these schools?

This post is about the textiles curriculum and teaching in the UK, or at least in some Nottinghamshire schools.

Back in the dark ages when I was at primary school (that'd be the 1970s), infants (age 5-7) sewed mats and bookmarks using low-count aida fabric, and juniors (age 8-11) tackled "proper" sewing such as aprons and patchwork cushions. Nowadays all this seems to have vanished. In six years at primary school, my daughter sewed only one thing - a christmas stocking decoration in Year 1.

For Key Stage 3 (age 11 - 14) the UK national curriculum takes a modular approach to design & technology. Previously in textiles modules my daughter made a drawstring back pack and a pocketed wall-organiser. As much attention has been paid to the creation of suitable fabric as to the sewing itself, through the use of techniques like tie-dye, fabric painting and batik.

In last half-term's textiles unit, my daughter made a patchwork cushion, and as this was her first patchwork attempt, asked the teacher for advice.

"Cut out pieces roughly the same size" the teacher advised. Roughly?!! Although I'm not the patchwork queen, everything I've read insists that precision is essential, hence the sale of quilting rulers, rotary cutters and pre-cut paper templates.

"Sew them together one by one," the teacher instructed. No, no! sew them in rows first, and then join the rows!

I do understand about exploration and experiential learning, heck, I previously trained in teaching adults myself. But there is a difference between allowing free learning and giving the wrong advice when asked.

My daughter has opted for textiles as her KS4 design specialism, so I'll be watching with interest.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you textiles teacher needs a few lessons! My daughter school only teach sewing and cookery in year 7, they drop it in year 8 and above sadly.

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