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The World of Needlework

Last weekend was our first session of our first Professional Development series. It is such a grace to work collaboratively, as we truly learn from each other. Although Shellie and I worked hard to put this together, our feeling on Sunday evening was "gosh, it was so much fun to learn together!"

Shellie assembled some exceptional materials and made a very clear instructional video about Otomi Tenangos embroidery from Mexico. We chose three techniques: Otomi work from Central America, drawn threads from Europe (more or less) and Sashiko from Japan in order to extend our peripheral vision and question how we meet the cultural and geographical identities of our students. These three techniques are in varying degrees of cultural assimilation, and we anticipated discussions around how to honor the origins of a technique we might (or might not) choose to bring to our students.

A lot of our discussions in the three sessions centered around color: firstly, the joy of using multiple random colors in this time of covid. We briefly explored the feeling of 'bathing' in color, and being immersed in the 'soul massage' of color; color therapies were mentioned; and the diagnostic and therapeutic benefits of color choice in handwork beyond having crayons of various skin colors available.

We also mentioned and acknowledged the stark difference between the experience of riotous color in Mexican rural streets, and the experience of the "Silver City" of Aberdeen in Scotland, where everything is a (beautiful - my personal take) grey.

We are left with considerations of how we can meet children from different cultural heritages in our classrooms. Do they have to set aside their heritage and home surroundings in order to step into a Waldorf handwork classroom? Are we too prescriptive? What do others see that we might not see? Do children perceive an energy in color that we 'miss'? What about those purple cats and pink puppies? Is there a change as children move through the grades?

Do we have to re-calibrate our expectations and goals as children seek comfort and security, and a sense of identity in these anxious times?

What do you think?

Three threaded needles: for Otomi, for drawn thread, and for Sashiko

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