We recently added a couple of sewing machines to our makers space collection in the Library Learning Commons (LLC) and, to my delight, the machines were well received; over the last few weeks we have had students and teachers regularly popping in at lunch to try them out.
Also to my delight, I got to witness, over and over again, a willingness to try. A teacher’s assistant tried five drafts of a scrunchie before deciding on the final design that we would use to teach the new sewers. A student asked if she could try sewing a mask without a pattern. Another student insisted on trying to thread the machine himself, a daunting task for a brand-new sewer. One student asked to take some fabric scraps so that he could try using the machine he had at home. Two teachers used the machines to try mending old clothes.
While watching our community learn to sew, I saw the “people of try” that Darryl DeBoer, our Director of Learning, invites us to be.
When we open ourselves to be beginners – learners – again, and when we embrace a spirit of trying, we open ourselves up to “life’s joyful, fulfilling adventures.”
The students and teachers that sat down at a sewing machine for a first time to try something new demonstrated small acts of bravery; being a novice is scary, and we can’t assume success. These acts of bravery were a source of delight, creativity, and our own flourishing. In his Atlantic article, “Go Ahead and Fail,” Arthur C. Brooks says that fear of failure “can steer us away from life’s joyful, fulfilling adventures, by discouraging us from taking risks and trying new things.”
When we open ourselves to be beginners – learners – again, and when we embrace a spirit of trying, we open ourselves up to “life’s joyful, fulfilling adventures.” Unsurprisingly, all of these tries at the sewing machine led to joy. Students supported each other and taught each other next steps. They giggled, took pictures, and asked if they could make more for their friends. Their eyes glinted with pride as they completed their first tries. We collectively delighted in creativity and problem solving and beauty-making.
Being a community of “people of try” reaches far beyond the sewing machines in the LLC, of course. Embracing this name impacts the topics we choose to learn more about and the people we choose to get to know. When we learn new skills, go new places, and engage God’s world in a dynamic way, we soon find that our spirit of try becomes indistinguishable from our spirit of joy.
By Katy Dekens, English Teacher