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The trouble with boys…?

“You teach Textiles? In a boys school? To boys? Do they like it?”

I have always encountered near incredulity when mentioning my specialist subject to others. I actually trained as a dance teacher many hundreds of years ago (must be the green tea). I became accustomed to surprised reactions to the fact that boys even did dance at secondary school. Throughout my career I have been fortunate enough to work in schools where the Performing Arts are cherished. Schools that actively encourage both sexes to express themselves through this medium from Year 7 (1st year) up through GCSE and A level Dance. Extremely successfully too. Then bits started to fall from my body and a fabulous opportunity to teach textiles came tumbling into my lap. What was a girl to do? Sorry, I mean, what was a girl – who LOVES sewing, designing and creating with fabrics – to do?

This year class Year 8/TY2 have the pleasure of my company. Last year I taught my Year 7’s to sew by hand and they took home puppets they had made based on fairytale characters…

Glodi and Prince Charming

and sock monsters upcycled from old socks…

Eden and his socky - Stripy!

after the best part of a year. This year my task is to teach them how to use a sewing machine…. in SIX weeks!

*Rolls sleeves up*.

On friday at the beginning of the lesson as I finished taking the register and 21 eager faces looked at me expectantly . I announced the introductory lesson topic… ‘The History of Sewing’.

One lone, brave boy (we’ll call him X – for Xtremely foolish – shall we?) summed up the mood of the class “We’re sup-POSED to be doing sewing! Not HISSSS-tory!”

Don’t you just love children?

Once I had re-established the ground rules for expressing one’s opinion out loud, we continued. I displayed a script on the whiteboard and invited volunteers to read out a paragraph each. It was full of exciting facts about the history of sewing. I am serious by the way. The boys became particularly animated when learning about early thread made from animal sinew (true) and French tailors rioting back in the 19th century in uproar at the possibility of losing their jobs to industrialisation (“like the Summer riots in Lewisham miss!” Hmmm)

Once complete, I handed out envelopes which contained slips of paper with the same information. The class were given two minutes to arrange the paragraphs in order. Cue much hilarity. I noted (smugly, I admit) that X seemed to be having a great time motivating his group to finish quickly. Next came the quiz part. I read the questions and the first member of each group to hold up the relevant slip and read the correct answer gained a point. Simple, yes? Have you ever taught 12 year old boys?

Actually it was good fun…well I had fun stretching out the anticipatory silence before reading out a question reeeeally slowly. Isn’t that the point?

What am I trying to say? It doesn’t matter whether the subject is deemed ‘traditional’ or not, boys and girls will enjoy it because, believe it or not, they love to learn. And if they can have some laughs along the way….you’ve got them hooked.

Here’s the best bit…I hated Design and Technology at school! Funny that…

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