Crochet is a good pastime for thinking it turns out. While crocheting I’ve been thinking about how it links to education. Here is why it is/could be the ultimate anchor for talking about effective planning for education.
To understand my thinking: yarn = new content, stitches = prior knowledge/prior learning
I have unravelled seven reasons below:
1) Each stitch loops through the previous one
To create a slip stitch in crochet you pull the yarn through the previous stitch. For a single crochet you wrap the yarn over then loop it back through. If the yarn is the new content and the stitches or loops are prior experience or prior knowledge then the rule is ‘connect each new bit to a previous bit’. If you can connect knowledge to build upon prior knowledge as your planning strategy, you are in a good place for designing learning that allows for authentic knowledge construction. Each new idea is pulled ‘back through’ a previous one purposefully.
2) There is only one hook
To compare knitting to crochet, the main difference is two needles versus one hook. With knitting, if you drop your work you stand to lose a whole row of stitches. With crochet, there is only one stitch. I love the idea that this could transfer to being one learner at one time. If you focus on all the learners and all the needs (knitting) then a misstep loses all connections. If you focus on one at a time and you ‘drop a stitch’ it is easy to reconnect and ‘loop back’ with the individual. Just look for the previous loop to see where they are up to.
3) The stitches are scaffolded
If you are a beginner with crochet then treble stitches or puff stitches seem really hard. But the stitches easily build on each other. Master the single crochet stitch and the double just adds additional content and an additional looping in to previous content. (Two connections versus one).If you study crochet stitch diagrams but think of yarn as new content and loops or stitches as prior learning, you are suddenly exploring a very deliberate planning strategy. As in the previous picture, it is a deliberate looping back to and through previous learning and it is making deliberate connections to two ideas. The purposeful pull of the new idea needs to be ‘back through’ previous understanding.
4) The complex patterns are really connections to previous stitches
Like anything, when you are new to it the whole thing seems overwhelming. Learning can be beautifully messy anyway, but if you plan to connect meaningfully and reconnect purposefully to previous content you could end up with some really interesting insights to planning processes and learning design in general. Working in the round (making stitches in a circle pattern) could mean that you deliberately ‘walk’ around and around an idea connecting and anchoring new concepts deliberately to a single ‘foundation’. What an amazing way to talk through and embed new understanding!
5) The yarn colour can be changed easily
It would be easy to think that this way of working could lead to repetition. That’s an easy fix by changing the lenses/colours of the content that you are pulling through and adapting the focus that you apply to previous knowledge or understanding.
6) It is hard to lose your place
If every time you introduce something new you deliberately link or loop back to the previous content it is hard to lose your place. But how about upping your linking to be ‘puff stitch’ (wrapping the yarn several times as ‘bog’ content) or ‘treble stitch’ (linking, looping, linking, building, looping and connecting). New knowledge is strengthened by connections to prior learning. Looping back with a crochet ‘hook’ is like deliberately stacking learning so that the end of one lesson could also be the beginning of another. Always looking back and recognizing that, without considered and deliberate looping, you might drop stitches.
7) It is a system
Being clear with planning is so important. Even if you teach on demand and embrace responsiveness and agile systems, clear systems and deliberate learning design helps to make sure that nothing is left to chance. What would it look like if you planned stitch by stitch? What new deliberate connections might planning bring with deliberate looping back and pulling through?
Is your mind blown? Mine is.
Stitch by stitch ideas can grow faster than you think.
And back to my colour block crochet cardigan project… crocheting and thinking, thinking and crocheting…