Always About Math – Eventually

So I picked up a little hobby. It started very innocently and turned into something I can’t put down. (Not surprising to anyone who knows me). It’s crochet.  I think David Butler was the inspiration with his beautifully created crocheted coral reef. Then I turned to scarves and hats and slippers. Four months later, I’m feverishly making animals. Their eyes are a little wonky and the limbs aren’t attached perfectly, but I’m creating things I didn’t think I could. 

What’s most interesting as I reflect on what I have made is the process by which I’ve learned this new skill. I started with a YouTube video. I did some chaining. A lot of pausing and rewinding later, I was on to the single crochet – the basic stitch. If this were a typical high school math class, I would be moved onto the double crochet instruction and led to then practice it. Then, once I had that mastered, I could then view the treble stitch, and if I checked enough boxes, I might encounter some enrichment like a crab stitch cluster stitches. But only if I got enough practice with those basic stitches first. 

Not surprisingly, this “instruction and practice” method was not how I progressed through my crochet creations. I learned to make them by…actually making them. I made a super terrible looking pig, but figured out my missteps and made another one that I’m more proud to show off. In the process, I learned how to do a popcorn stitch. I made a hat for my daughter that would have fit her 3 years ago, but used it to determine how to make one that fits perfectly. 

I understand the need for skill practice. I would consider my trial-and-error attempts at a wearable, usable crocheted item as practice while I’ve seen my craft improve. I often hear the “sports metaphor” used in this situation, that ample amounts of practice shooting, passing, and team building lead to better game performance. In math class, do we ever let the children play the actual game? Or is their only performance that which is on a written exam? Is that the only thing they are practicing for? More tests? But back to crochet…Had I taken the instruction/practice route, I’m sure I’d be better prepared for the crochet Olympics. But in the end, it would have been a whole lot less rewarding and fun.