A few weeks ago one of my fellow Guiders was telling me about her latest Guide meeting. One comment struck a particular chord:
”Last [night] one of my Guides was stressed that she hadn’t finished her craft. When I offered to give her supplies to finish it at home, she told me she’s not allowed to do crafts at home. When asked why, she said her mum says “crafts don’t get you anywhere.” She is 9.”
I couldn’t believe my ears. My initial gut reaction: crafts are awesome! I am admittedly a sucker for arts and crafts, but I disagreed wholeheartedly with this comment. However, despite the surprising nature of this parent’s opinion, I don’t believe it is unique. There is incredible pressure on girls and young women to succeed academically, and unfortunately arts and crafts are not always seen as academically valuable – despite the fact that they contribute to intellectual development in a wide range of ways!
Arts and crafts help build many skills, including visual thinking, fine motor skills, pattern recognition, and observation. They help children to develop self-esteem, patience and self-regulation. Furthermore, they provide an outlet for creative stimulation. As Guiders, I feel like we have been presented a wonderful opportunity to ignite a passion for arts and crafts, whether it is beadwork, painting, drawing, dancing, woodwork, music or singing. We can empower girls and young women to achieve their highest potential by encouraging them to be creative participants in the scientific fields!
Furthermore, the skills, knowledge, techniques, concepts and creativity that come along with arts and crafts make new science and innovation possible. Within the various branches of Guiding, there is a continued commitment to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities and learning. Encouraging and engaging girls and young women in the world of science and technology is awesome. However, we must remember to integrate the two: crafts and STEM!
If we think of some of the most successful scientists throughout history, many have valued the importance of creativity. Albert Einstein, well-known for his work in theoretical physics, once said, “After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well” (as cited in Kaplan, 2001).
So, as we sit down to make our next camp hat craft, don’t forget that arts and crafts are never far from STEM! Maybe Brownies will want to know what makes glitter glue so sticky, or maybe the Guides will want to know how the fun-foam shapes were manufactured, or maybe Pathfinders might be interested in the chemical properties of the dyes used in tie-dye. My challenge for you: can you spot the science, technology, engineering and math within every arts and craft activity?
By guest blogger Erin. Erin is a Guider with the 15th Toronto Pathfinder-Ranger Unit, an admitted craftaholic and a recent PhD graduate from the University of Toronto (in science, of course!).
What’s New with Girl Guides? On June 21st, Canadians from all walks of life are invited to participate in the many National Aboriginal Day events that will be taking place from coast to coast to coast. We’ve highlighted a select number of related girl programming activities that you could do with your unit to learn more about the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.