Teach­ing Cro­chet

Crochet World - - Contents - By Randy Cava­liere

There’s an old say­ing that goes, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” In the cro­chet world, those who can of­ten do as well as teach. As a cro­cheter who earns a liv­ing from tech­ni­cal edit­ing, de­sign­ing and in­struc­tion, teach­ing oth­ers to cro­chet is in­cred­i­bly sat­is­fy­ing to me. I was cer­ti­fied by the Craft Yarn Coun­cil as a Cro­chet Teacher in 2006. Since then, I’ve taught stu­dents from 8- to 80-years-old in in­di­vid­ual and group ses­sions. I’ve taught at World Wide Knit in Pub­lic Day cel­e­bra­tions and Maker Faire, on sub­way com­mutes, at fam­ily and friend gath­er­ings, and in the Con­tin­u­ing Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment of a com­mu­nity col­lege where I cre­ated be­gin­ner and in­ter­me­di­ate level cour­ses. I’ve taught one stu­dent in her liv­ing room and 18 in a class­room. Why teach? The an­swer is ob­vi­ous: You love to cro­chet and want to share your knowl­edge (and, per­haps, get paid for it). But it goes be­yond that. Teach­ing cre­ates a great con­nec­tion be­tween teacher and stu­dent. There’s in­stant grat­i­fi­ca­tion for both par­ties when the stitches are formed cor­rectly and the fab­ric be­gins to take shape. For the teacher, the learn­ing goes both ways. I’ve dis­cov­ered that teach­ing isn’t sim­ply about putting a hook in some­one’s hand and show­ing them how to ma­nip­u­late the yarn cor­rectly. It’s about find­ing how to ef­fec­tively reach and teach that in­di­vid­ual in a way that will make sense to her. This is an on­go­ing process as you work with each new stu­dent. Start by get­ting ac­quainted with your stu­dent’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties. Why and what do they want to cro­chet? Do they have any knowl­edge of cro­chet or have they ever held a hook and yarn? What other hands-on crafts do they en­joy? Learn­ing about your stu­dents helps you for­mu­late your teach­ing meth­ods. Each of us learns dif­fer­ently. An in­te­gral key to teach­ing is fig­ur­ing out how your stu­dent ab­sorbs in­for­ma­tion. I’ve found that peo­ple learn in one or more of three dif­fer­ent ways: by hear­ing the in­struc­tion, see­ing the se­quence of stitch­ing, and/ or read­ing the in­struc­tion. As I teach, I work with all of these means si­mul­ta­ne­ously; I ex­plain the stitch, I demon­strate the stitch, and I write how to make the stitch (printed hand­outs are a must, es­pe­cially in a group set­ting). There are vis­ual learn­ers who watch you form a stitch and “get” it, those who lis­ten as you de­scribe step-by-step (“…in­sert the hook in the next stitch, yarn over, pull up a loop…”) and fol­low along well, and many who only need to read the in­struc­tions or see an il­lus­tra­tion to un­der­stand what to do. When you find the best method(s) by which to teach, that eureka mo­ment will hit your stu­dent as the in­struc­tion falls into place and makes per­fect sense. I have seen that mo­ment count­less times and that won­der­ful grat­i­fi­ca­tion re­wards the teacher for the ef­fort. In ad­di­tion to work­ing with dif­fer­ent learn­ing abil­i­ties, an ef­fec­tive teacher must find a way to teach stu­dents with is­sues that re­quire in­di­vid­ual at­ten­tion. I’m a righty who’s taught left­ies, those with im­paired vi­sion and hear­ing, ail­ments that hin­der the abil­ity to hold the hook and yarn, and stu­dents for whom English is not eas­ily un­der­stood. I heartily rec­om­mend that if you in­tend to teach, first learn to cro­chet with your non­dom­i­nant hand. If you solely teach right-handed, the left-handed stu­dent, es­pe­cially in a group, will feel os­tra­cized and con­fused about how to hold and work the hook and yarn. For­get the mir­ror trick! It’s so much eas­ier to teach that stu­dent with the same hand as she or he will work, even if it takes you a few ex­tra mo­ments to switch hands and ac­cli­mate to her or his needs. For those with phys­i­cal is­sues, think cre­atively; place a hear­ing im­paired stu­dent next to a quick learner who can demon­strate the stitch­ing to the stu­dent. Al­low the stu­dent with arthritic hands to hold the hook and yarn in any com­fort­able way that still main­tains the cor­rect for­ma­tion of the stitches. Use large illustrations (step-by-step ones are par­tic­u­larly help­ful) that show the stitch or tech­nique you’re teach­ing for the stu­dent who strug­gles with English. Once you de­ter­mine the best meth­ods by which to teach your stu­dents, the teach­ing usu­ally goes smoothly. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn from your stu­dents and the plea­sure you’ll feel from this. And who knows, maybe you will in­spire some of them to be­come teach­ers who will pass the love of cro­chet on to more peo­ple!

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