“Oh! The Waldorf school! That’s where they teach kids to knit, right?”
Certainly the inclusion of Handwork - knitting, crochet, sewing, embroidery - as a special subject area for our Grade School students (and finger knitting in the Early Childhood) is a well-known and beloved aspect of the curriculum at the Waldorf School of Princeton. What is not as well-known to those outside of our school is how these Handwork skills allow our students to experience STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) concepts and build 21st century skills through practical, real-world applications. While you may not see our students on digital devices, our students are designing, engineering, problem-solving, thinking critically and very much engaging in “Maker” education using hands-on and experiential methods.
For example, a student following a knitting pattern written out as, “*K1, P1, repeat from * to end of row,” is applying basic coding skills, except the student carries out the pattern to engineer the final product, rather than a computer doing it for him/her/them. An older student may take it a bit further, adjusting or creating patterns, testing designs and, through this approach, learning the essentials of “programming.” Educational research and experts in the Scientific and Mathematical fields support STEAM learning using such hands-on approaches, as you will find in the articles linked below.
For more information about Handwork and how students at the Waldorf School of Princeton are Learning in Real Life through our unique, experiential curriculum, visit www.princetonwaldorf.org.