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Thursday, October 5 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Knitting, Sewing, Crocheting: Craft Endeavors around Ratio and Proportion

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Craft communities can be powerful sites for production-centered, interest-driven, peer-supported learning, principles espoused by connected learning (Ito et al., 2013). Communities around textile crafts in particular, such as knitting circles, tend to be dominated by women, due to the long gendered histories of fiber-art production. These crafting practices are inherently mathematical, presenting mathematical activities women choose to participate in. 

Despite the lack of gender differences in mathematics achievement (Hyde, Lindberg, Linn, Ellis & Williams, 2008), women are underrepresented in STEM careers (US Census, 2011). Studies of females’ mathematical participation suggest that these discrepancies stem from the extent to which women feel welcome in math spaces (Alper, 1993; Boaler, 2002). School mathematics is frequently stripped of meaningful context; hands-on production restores this context, allowing students to develop a personal relationship with mathematical ideas.

Particularly exciting are the possibilities for these crafts to ignite new ways of knowing ratio and proportion and spatial visualization. Ratio and proportion are concepts traditionally taught in school (NGSS, 2017), while spatial visualization is not explicitly taught. Both have implications for engagement with the world and for success in some STEM fields, such as engineering ( Hegarty, Crookes, Dara-Abrams, & Shipley, 2010). Knitting, crocheting, and sewing offer three distinct ways of engaging these mathematical concepts, both simultaneously and separately. This suggests that these craft engagements may prepare children to be flexible in their ways of knowing math, relevant to authentic math-related challenges outside of school. In this session, we will break into three groups to separately explore these three crafts to actively explore these intriguing differences and interrelationships. In the teach-in, we will have three rotating tables through which participants can explore three crafts and their mathematical expressions. We will close with a whole-group discussion about the affordances and constraints of the crafts as “objects-to-think-with” (Papert, 1980) in mathematics education, how they can transform math classrooms, and possible implications for closing gender gaps in STEM.


Thursday October 5, 2017 2:00pm - 3:00pm
Emerald Bay A

Attendees (9)