So, all of my faithful blog followers (all two or three of you),
My experience at the Saturday workshop about computerized textiles will be no surprise. I loved the lecture at the start, loved the big ideas about democratization of technology and found the methods and motives of the group incredibly inspiring. But, once again, in trying to actually be a practioner of the art, I found myself completely, totally, unbelievably, inept.
I could go into the gory details of the day, but let's just say (and I am no slacker, I tried my darndest for the entire 11:30-2:30 section of the sewing part of the day), the hours were a blur of unsuccessfully trying to thread needles (thank God for Ying Sin, the best lady in the world), losing the thread off of my needle, pricking myself, starting over because of fraying thread, and the cycle repeats. I did my most work of the day during the last ten minutes, when I panicked because I had no project for Dianne to take a picture of, so I miraculously somewhat-successfully sewed on a battery and half of an LED onto my daughter's "BOO" Halloween shirt.
I blame my slow-to-nonexistent progress on the following:
1. My lack of sewing skills. (I got a B- in sewing class in the 8th grade.)
2. The fact that several of the assistants recommended that I do a "trial run" of the circuit on a meaningless block of cloth. The second I moved to my daughter's shirt, I suddenly worked a lot better.
3. My lack of sewing skills. (Oh to have hand eye, small motor, coordination)
4. And finally, my lack of basic sewing skills.
I could comment on the computer programming section of the workshop (which did go slightly better, but no gold stars here), but this is getting lengthy.
I ran into an ethereal-with-joy Dianne at lunch (the lady practically ran the workshop), who breathlessly described the easy-connection she has with this medium, and related my frustration with it to her frustration with Scratch. (What happens if I was frustrated with both?) Of course, this validated the assumptions of Leah and Kylie's research group, that the medium makes all the difference, that it's not that technology is "too hard" for most mainstream girls, but that the medium is often unappealing.
One last topic to explore. My poor, sleeping daughter's ghost Halloween shirt. It has a battery and LED slightly dangling, thread all over the place. I, due to Kylie's encouraging urging, have some beads to attach and a very shaky vision of how I might actually be able to make it work, for Lucy's movement to make the light go on and off. Unfortunately, I've more than lost my motivation. This is the story of my life. I love the starts of things, the ideas of things. If I could, I would simply learn about interesting pedagogies, perhaps think about how I could adapt them to my context. But it's the actually putting them into practice, the cutting out of materials, this is where the rubber meets the road, and where I lose my interest. I figure understanding the new concept of the idea is the point, while most people find being able to actually physically represent this understanding is the point.
Does this make me a bad person? In our culture, it usually does. But I'm not so sure. I think some of us are finishers, and some of us are starters, and the really lucky ones of us are both starters and finishers. I feel like my daughter's messy shirt is pretty perfect the way it is, and I'm not sure if that is because I'm a lazy excuse for a human being, because I fear the constant prick of the needle, or because, in some way, me understanding how the circuit could work and how the medium has real potential (for some people) is enough for me. . .
And, more to the point, what about my students who are like me? Most of us "judge" our students by their output, their final projects, their revised and edited papers. Process gets very little credit, very little notice. I feel like I learned a lot from the day, but if Kylie just would take a look at Lucy's sad shirt, she would be hard-pressed to tell. In a world we are judged by the only thing that we CAN judge, the output, the product, is there anything more to us than just what we do?