Create a learning space

Making magazines, developing curriculum

The classroom at Compass Montessori Farm School. 

There are themes, cadences to my life that swirl around—spiraling threads that emanate from my center, overlapping and touching at times. Naturally, as a mother watching my children grow and learn, my thoughts often turn to how we humans learn. And as I go about my job as editor, I feel as though I'm constantly learning and growing in my understanding of spinning, the history, and the people who do it. I know that you pick up Spin-Off for a variety of reasons—inspiration, community, history, and instruction. I get great pleasure out of finding just the right article or project to place in the magazine that will bring some aspect of spinning into greater clarity, answer a question, raise even more, and satisfy that desire to know more.

I've been working with my friend Bekah to develop a fiber-arts curriculum for her junior high students and beyond. The school is really unique—the only one in the nation—a pre-K through twelfth grade public Montessori school with a working farm on the campus. And the Farm Studio is even more unique. Instead of rows of desks and chairs facing a blackboard, this classroom has industrial sewing machines, a working kitchen along one wall, a knitting nook, spinning wheels, floor and table looms, piles of yarn and fabric tucked away neatly, and tables where every project imaginable can take place. This was part of Maria Montessori's vision for the classroom. In addition to learning the culinary arts and bringing the harvest down from the farm to make food for the lunch tables at school, the kids are learning everything through the fiber arts.

The classroom at Compass Montessori Farm School.

For over a year, I've been volunteering regularly in the classroom by helping to get the spinning wheels up and running, warping looms, demonstrating spinning on handspindles, dyeing with indigo, and showing the kids how to wash the alpaca fleece from the resident alpacas.

So, I wanted to ask you, with your vast knowledge and broad experiences, what if you had an opportunity to create a learning space for your thirteen- to fifteen-year-old self to learn about art, science, math, literature, composition, languages, politics, history, and society through hands-on fiber arts? What would you put in that classroom, what resources would you use, and how would you structure it? And, how would that be the same or different from what you want from Spin-Off?

Happy spinning,

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