My mother-in-law, Sharon is my knitting teacher. We began this adventure over Spring Break last year. Sharon is a fabulous teacher. Instinctively, she knew what steps to take to help me succeed. She began by sitting beside me, demonstrating how to "cast on." I watched her for a few minutes, and then I tried it out on my own. She talked me through it several times, and when I thought I had the concept, we moved on.
The first stitch she taught me was the knit stitch. For the next two days, that's what I practiced. She left me alone with it, occasionally stopping by to offer words of support and encouragement. When things didn't look right to me, she was there to help fix my mistakes and tell me what I did wrong.
When she felt that I had enough confidence, she introduced the purl stitch. (I never knew that was the way to spell "purl"!) Again, she sat beside me, demonstrating the proper technique. Just as before, I ventured out on my own and practiced.
With the knowledge of casting on, knitting, and purling, I was ready to take on a simple project! I began a scarf. It only required twenty knit stitches across, and twenty knit stitches back. It probably took longer than it should have because I kept pulling out the stitches and starting over. It was difficult because I didn't have my teacher's immediate feedback. (By this time, Spring Break was over and Sharon was home in Delaware.) I perservered, though, and made two scarves.
I am now on to bigger things. I have not learned any new stitches, but I am using the two I already know to make a blanket. I am about halfway through. Maybe I'll be finished by the time we finally get some cool weather!
In retrospect, I realize that Sharon taught me to knit using the workshop method. It really does work for any subject area-- writing, reading, math, and knitting! It made sense to have a little lesson, take some time to practice, get feedback along the way, and add to my knowledge as I was ready.
I think we should put ourselves in the vulnerable position as learners often. It helps keep us grounded, it exercises the brain, and it helps us to relate to our students. If you agree, and want to learn more about teaching reading, writing, or math through the workshop method, Beth Newingham is an excelllent mentor teacher!