This section is from the book "School Needlework. A Course of Study in Sewing designed for use in Schools", by Olive C. Hapgood. Also available from Amazon: School Needlework: A Course Of Study In Sewing Designed For Use In Schools.
In the instruction of classes, especially if they are large, good results can be obtained by simultaneous teaching. Class work is more effectual than individual work; the lesson being as easily dictated to a class of fifty, as to a single pupil.
Demonstration lessons are a great help in simultaneous teaching. On page 162 is an illustration of a frame used in European countries; smaller frames, that fasten on to the desk, are also used. The cords represent the threads of the cloth, and a large bone needle is used. In this country the frame has not proved very satisfactory. In its place, a piece of Java or coarse canvas, coarse heavy scrim, or linen crash may be hung over a wire on the wall or blackboard, or held in the hands. One advantage of the use of cloth is that it can be easily taken to any part of the room.
The stitch should be worked on the cloth in plain view of all the pupils. To give the exact position of the work, as it is held by the pupil, let the teacher stand with her back towards the pupils, and hold her hands at one side or above her head. A large needle and coarse, bright-colored yarn or twine should be used, so that the stitch can be easily seen; in a large room this may be accomplished by repeating the demonstration on the opposite side of the room
When approaching a new stitch, it is wise to spend a short time for several preceding lessons in simply showing how the stitch is taken.
The lesson may be divided into five parts: first, a talk on the subject matter, for instance, in a lesson on buttonholes, describe the button-hole, its use, size, position, etc., also show garments having the required stitch; second, a demonstration lesson on the cloth, making the stitches very large and describing each motion; third, an examination of the pupils concerning the talk and demonstration; fourth, the demonstration repeated, having the pupils dictate the motions and the stitch; fifth, all the pupils make the stitch on their trial-pieces, at the same time that it is again being demonstrated on the cloth. The next stitches may be made by following a pupil's dictation, the teacher showing how to move the cloth as the work progresses. Thus, by close attention and following the motions, the pupils learn the stitch; individual help will necessarily have to be given to the dull pupils.
These lessons require time and patience, but the results fully compensate. Teachers are apt to expect too much, and although it may seem as if little had been accomplished in the lesson hour, do not be discouraged, for, if the class has learned a little thoroughly, much has been gained. The pupil requires much practice on the simple stitches, but after the stitches are thoroughly learnt, rapid progress may be expected. A few fine garments made by the most capable pupils do not compensate for poor execution by the remainder of the class.
A teacher's success depends much on the first impressions given to her pupils. The first lesson should be a simple talk between teacher and pupils, in which the confidence of the pupils should be gained. This may be done by questioning them on the advantages and pleasures of learning to sew, outlining their course, pointing out the results, describing the articles required, etc. Let the first lesson be simply a preparation for a pleasant course.
The second lesson should be on the general directions, with explanations and oral instruction. At the close of each lesson the pupils should be able to answer the printed questions. It is a good plan to review the lessons at various times, by re-asking the questions.
The third and perhaps fourth lesson should be devoted to needles and thread, so that the pupils may become perfectly familiar with them, their size, location, and use.
The tying of the knot should be taught carefully, and each pupil should understand its construction, as many think a wad of thread is a knot. To accomplish this, let each pupil pass before the teacher with the thread partially drawn up, as in Fig. 1, and complete it under her oversight. This teaches also the proper size for the knot at the end of the thread. The directions for making the knot are given for the left hand, but children will often make it more readily with the right hand. Some teachers never allow the use of knots, except when absolutely necessary, while others consider it proper to use them, when they can be concealed. The fastening of the thread securely, in both beginning and ending, should be emphasized.
Circumstances and the teacher's judgment will decide the exact order in which the stitches should be taught, and which will vary according to the pupils' previous instruction in the kindergarten and primary schools. Some teachers prefer to begin with basting, others with running, but stitching, although harder, drills the pupils more in exactness.