Knitting in the Classroom
Knitting in the classroom is not cause for detention, at least not in some schools. The Waldorf Schools to be specific. They were inspired by an Austrian scientist named Rudolf Steiner who died in 1925. He believed humans are comprised of spirit, soul and body. And that we develop in three stages on the way to becoming adults: early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence. The philosophy of the Waldorf Schools believes that we are a combination of brains, hearts and limbs. That is why art and practical skills are part of their core curriculum. Neurological research has shown that mobility and dexterity in the fine motor muscles, especially in the hands, may stimulate cellular development in the brain. In Waldorf Schools first graders learn two-needle flat knitting to develop fine motor skills for writing and understanding numbers for math. In fifth grade they learn to knit in the round using 4 needles, which relates to learning about mathematical progressions. Knitting stimulates concentration skills that will support their problem-solving abilities in later years. Counting stitches and rows and changing row lengths helps with math concepts and contributes to flexibility in their thinking. A century after the first school was opened in Stuttgart, Germany it has become the largest independent school movement in the world. It's approach to education could perhaps be best characterized in Steiner's own words, "Thinking is cosmic knitting."