Textile Design with 6th Graders!

For a refreshing change of pace, professors Marcia Weiss and Meghan Kelly and undergrad student Hannah Shaub spent time this semester teaching textile design to Ms. Hudson-Green’s 6th-grade class at William D Kelley Grade School in Philadelphia.

This opportunity came from the Center For Architecture and Design (CFAD) as part of their Architecture and Design Education (ADE) program. To quote from their mission statement,

“Our Architecture and Design Education (ADE) program is committed to exponentially expanding access to design education for K-12 students in Philadelphia. Diversity in the design and construction industry is woefully inadequate. One of our primary goals is to make more BIPOC and Latinx students aware of the career opportunities in design.”

TJU’s Textile Design department was the first guest team to focus specifically on textiles with the class. It was a learning experience for all of us! We were apprehensive and unsure how to approach textile creation concepts with a group of grade schoolers who, at turns and never in sync, were rambunctious, eager, shy, enthusiastic, and bored. But quickly, we were overjoyed to find that they were curious, quick learners who engaged with us and worked hard at the tasks we gave them.

Among several small activities, we worked with them to weave on small rigid heddle looms, arm knit in groups of five, finger knit individually, and collage images onto presentation boards based on an assigned country or region. These kids led with their hearts and delighted us all with their talent and enthusiasm. Many would proudly point out their knit and woven articles of clothing when we arrived each Thursday morning. The students were divided into groups of three and assigned China, Africa, and Indonesia, respectively. As designed by CFAD to nest into existing classes, these textile lessons fit into the Social Studies curriculum that Ms. Hudson-Green was teaching. On the whole, we talked about the definition of textiles and how they relate to culture, as well as everyday usage.

Marcia, Meghan, and Hannah have some quotes to share about the experience.

“Overall, it was such a positive and world-broadening experience. Teaching these young folks about things that we take for granted has allowed me to see textiles and pedagogy, respectively, in a new light. I have a newfound respect for grade-school teachers and young learners. Teaching kids is as much about listening as it is about telling.” – Meghan

“It was great working with Ms. Hudson-Green’s 6th graders on Textile Trends.  The students enthusiasm was joyful and contagious.  We look forward to bringing the class to campus in the near future.” – Marcia

“It has been so lovely getting to know and work with such enthusiastic and talent young people. Helping them learn about textile design has been such a pleasure.” – Hannah

As we ended our last session with the class, one of the students asked if they could visit us on campus. We are thrilled with the proposition and can’t wait to show them our facilities. We will be welcoming Ms. Hudson-Green’s whole class to tour our studios in the Spring semester! And who knows, perhaps a few of these lovely students will find their way to us in about six years. We absolutely hope so!

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