Is there a possibility that we have an entire generation of kids growing up without practical skills? Houston based nonprofit organization, the Creativity Shell says “yes” and they are teaching sewing/textile arts and other trades to hundreds of Houston area kids to circumvent this epidemic.
Thirty years ago, home economics programs such as sewing, cooking and shop classes were a standard part of the education system. Today, most home economics programs have been removed from schools and our society is failing to pass these skills on to the children. Research has shown that practical skills such as patience, problem solving and delayed instant gratification can be learned in experience based educational programs such as sewing classes. The reason to remove these programs from the education system however remains unclear.
THE LACK OF PRACTICAL SKILLS
Educational Psychologist and founder of the Creativity Shell, Shelancia Daniel began teaching sewing classes to students at local schools in 2015. With what began as a mission to bring home economics back into the education system, grew into a surprising observation that receives little attention in both local and national publications. Daniel observed that, “It was difficult to teach children to sew because they lacked the abilities to thread needles, tie knots, cut fabrics and most important; be patient while immersed in the creativity process.”
Furthermore Daniel noted, “The lack of practical skills added extreme frustration, the inability to cope, poor problem solving skills and poor decision-making skills among the students while trying to complete simple tasks. A simple sewing lesson became a task in behavioral management and eventually behavioral conditioning. Teenage hands had to be strengthened, instant gratification addicts had to be weaned and patience among all others had to be taught.”
Daniel (who is also a former costume designer) reengineered the sewing/textile arts classes to adhere to the current problems and skill set of this generation of children. By January 2016, structured classes with a customized grading system that measured the levels of difficulty, coping, perseverance, problem-solving and instant/delayed gratification were introduced to the Creativity Shell sewing/textile arts classes. Students new to sewing classes begin a 12-16 week program with simple projects that require fewer levels of difficulty, coping, problem solving etc. Through the structured classes, by week 12 of the course, students will develop the skills necessary to decrease their need for instant gratification and strengthen their ability to cope, persevere and have enough patience to complete a garment for him or her to wear.
FREE SEWING CLASSES
As an added bonus, the Creativity Shell teaches FREE sewing cases to students in public libraries, schools and shelters that rescue children from homelessness and human trafficking. “We want all children to learn practical skills,” Daniel says. “Regardless of their ability to pay for the classes.” For more advanced and specialized courses, students can also register (for a reduced fee) in classes at the Creativity Shell Makerspace in Kingwood, TX.
Registration for the upcoming Spring 2017 sessions at 5 Houston Public Libraries begin on January 3, 2017. In addition, the Creativity Shell also hosts an annual fashion show called Creativity Rocks on Saturday April 29, 2017 where students can design, make and model their outfits in front of distinguished members of the Houston fashion/costume community.
By September 2017, the Creativity Shell plans to expand the free sewing/textile arts classes to over 30 libraries across the Houston area. To continue teaching practical skills to students through sewing/textile arts, the Creativity Shell relies on donations of cash, fabric, supplies and new sewing machines. To donate, please visit the organizations website at www.creativityshell.org/donate. Donations are tax deductible.