Making the most of a new life




In my last post I was talking about doing some crafting with Jake at a school workshop. I agree that the scenario sounded quite idyllic, and I did really enjoy it. What has been bugging me ever since is that I feel that it might have also been rather misleading. This is because I actually do not really like crafting, not for myself and not really with the boys either. Indeed there have been more occasions than I care to think of that Jake and/ or Sam have come up to me with a potential project involving painting, cutting out, drawing or sculpting in some way or another, and I have done my upmost to try to dissuade them; or convince them that they can do it on their own.

As I write this it makes me feel very bad. Am I, in essence, stifling their creative development? Why am I so opposed to doing this sort of thing with them? Should I snap myself out it and just get on with it? Well that little voice inside me is saying yes to that last question, but I still do not like hearing it.

I think that one of the reasons why I just do not like it is that I am really not very good at it myself, and while I do have my creative side (which I hope shows through in my writing) I just do not seem to have the vision to create something beautiful (I would be happy with recognisable) through the manipulation of paper, glue, crayons and various other ephemera.

While writing this my mind had gone back to an incident when I was probably twelve. I had been taking woodwork classes at school (to be honest I preferred domestic science) and had been let loose on a lathe, the idea being for me to produce a potato masher. I whittled away at the wood until I produced what can only be described as a standard lamp for a dolls house. I remember presenting to my Mum who was very taken with the object, but also found it hilarious when she found out what it was supposed to be. I remember that she carried it about in her handbag for quite a while as an example of my handiwork. She was proud but also realistic about my skills.

What I now wonder is whether experiences such as this, and the (lack of) expectation that was placed on me, have given me the ambivalence to crafting that I have today. Yes, as I said last time, they have the effect of allowing me to shape my own destiny much more; but there is a part of me that thinks that a little more encouragement in this area may have improved my confidence in my own ability to make and fix things.

What I have learned from my new work as a coach is that it is important to understand where our attitudes come from; and writing this post has helped me to surface some of the reasons why I am not all that keen on crafting. It is, for me, a relatively small thing but it will add to my overall view of who I am, and what sort of a Father I can be.

What it will not do is abandon my policy of keeping the DIY to a minimum. I may be more aware but I still think I can knock hundreds of the value of a house with one blow of the hammer. Overcoming that will take much more work.

4 thoughts on “Crafting

  1. Hi Simon,

    As someone who is good at crafting, DIY, etc. I get great satisfaction from a ‘job well done’. I also find the act of using my brain and hands to make something a great ‘break’ from the day job where brain and hands are usually focused around a display screen. But that love of crafting probably led me to get far TOO involved in my kids’ practical projects at primary school: the Tudor house, the Victorian house, the Egyptian project. The teacher in me made sure they were fully involved, did most of the work, and had a sense of ownership. But nevertheless, the finished articles were great and still, twelve years later, sit proudly on our shelves at home.

    But there were other parents, who also clearly got involved but who didn’t have the aptitude. My sense was that they still enjoyed the experience of working together and ‘failing’ together. There seemed to be something important in enabling their children to see that their parents weren’t infallible, that they weren’t good at everything.

    The great educationalist Dorothy Heathcote tells the story of when she was teaching young children to write. She stood at the blackboard and wrote a perfectly formed letter ‘a’. A child called out “it’s easy for you Miss, you’re an adult!” Dorothy thought about this and went out and bought herself a Japanese calligraphy set. Back in the class she tried and failed to use the ink and brushes to form proper letters. The same child said, “ooh, you’re rubbish at that aren’t you, Miss.” Dorothy reply was “perhaps you’d like to help me?”

  2. Hi Simon. Primary schools in the UK have a talent for putting parents on the naughty step if they ‘help’ or if they don’t help. I remember a particular teacher who felt that my approach to long division was not ‘helpful’ although my children quickly took to the method. My discussions about differentiated learning went no where and one cold winter’s afternoon I found myself in a classroom…being taught the teacher’s preferred method…..badly. In the end, my children understood that there is always another approach to any problem…long division or otherwise.

  3. Thanks Jo. I think that this is important especially as many to the teaching methods today are so far removed from those with which I am familiar; phonics being a good example. Different methods and different angles can be complimentary rather than confusing if we are mindful about them.

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