A Teaching-Out-Of-The-Box Quilt

My friend Robin visited yesterday. She’s a radio personality who approaches life with an impressive  force and energy. We began to talk about the state of education and Robin came up with an interesting idea. Robin grew up in Baltimore and had a challenging home life. It was  school, she emotionally said, that really saved her. As we sat around the table eating dinner, we shared stories about  teachers who made huge impressions on us because of their ability and determination to think and teach out of the box.

Robin thought that a great many people must have examples of how creative teachers had major impacts on their lives.She suggested that, in the style of the Aids Quilt, we begin a project where we piece these stories together – one story to another, to another, to another…. making a sort-of story quilt consisting of examples of  lives  affected by creative, caring, non-script-teaching professionals. She thought that it would be a perfect response to the type of teaching- to- the- test mentality that is driving education today.

I’m pretty excited about the idea but I don’t know how to get it started. What are your thoughts? Wouldn’t it be great to have these stories printed up, attached together, and hung in some public spot? Am I thinking too big or crazy?

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “A Teaching-Out-Of-The-Box Quilt

  1. Tomasen

    I love the idea! I am trying to envision how to capture a story on a quilt square. Would they be in writing or would they be representations of stories?

    1. Renee Post author

      Tomasen, I threw out the idea on my blog while I was in the excited passion of the moment. Now I’m not quite sure how to facilitate this. I’m hoping to get more responses with ideas.

      I got one response by private email from Connie Norgren (Renee, The logistics of making an actual quilt and showing it are pretty daunting…. My first thoughts about this: Since this would be a tribute in WORDS to teachers we loved, teachers we were shaped by – what about setting up an internet site that could accept these stories. Then people could print them out and they could be displayed EVERYWHERE, and this site could be added to indefinitely. Right off, I am thinking about Mrs. Levin in 2nd grade and Miss Duhig in high school …… Maybe suggest that people make the stories brief and succinct so we could be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of teachers who changed our lives…who sent us into happy directions we wouldn’t have found on our own ….Connie)

      Then a response came on Facebook from Mary Sue Lindley (Rene – I like the idea. Are you thinking of an actual physical quilt with cloth squares that somehow represent the extraordinary teachers that people wish to honor, or are you thinking of collecting stories that describe the teachers/events/moments– and somehow “stitching” the stories into a “verbal” quilt?)

      I’m not quite sure where to go with this. Simon suggested a blog but Robin said “NO! This needs to be public and visible.” But how? I’m not quite sure.

      Ideas? Could this be a project for a university class of education students?

  2. Cathy

    I was involved in something similar (difference issue) a few years ago. Everyone produced a quilt square (10×10) and then described in one sheet why they designed it that way. Someone put the squares together and then put all the “stories” in a binder and the binder travelled with the quilt.

  3. Amy Brook Snider

    I agree that a quilt, which is visual, might not be the best vehicle for capturing stories.
    Years ago I had my Pratt students make a chart in which there were words and a drawing of the teacher from memory.
    They are fairly large but I may be able to scan part of one to see what you all think of this format.

    1. Renee Post author

      I’d love to see it Amy. I’m not wedded to any format. I was just really taken with Robin’s idea and thought that it’s worth sharing, throwing out to the cyberworld and see where it goes!

  4. Aeriale

    I love this, Renee! I’m going to do some more thinking regarding the format, but it is certainly past time to honor educators who are so far out of the box, they’re not sure of its location. At a time when surrendering to lobotomization is not only expected but rewarded, we need to show our society that it is those educators who buck the system who truly make a long-lasting difference in children’s lives.

  5. Amy Perruso

    I love this idea in general, and think that an actual large physical quilt that could be hung as (political) display somewhere in a prominent place, maybe in DC, of images that are metaphorical, perhaps, using imagery and symbolism or even concept words to capture the qualities that enabled those teachers to be creative, imaginative educators, would be great.

  6. Renee Post author

    Amy, that’s an interesting idea! I wonder about how something like this could actually be organized. One thought that I have for getting it started is to first have an online site where people enter memories of inspirational teachers. From these vignettes, a physical quilt might grow.
    What are your thoughts on this?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *