I've probably made you yawn before with the fact that I'm on the Board of Directors of my daughter's school, and I've probably mentioned that it's a Steiner school. Long-time readers of this blog will also know that I'm not an anthroposophist (i.e. a follower of Steiner Spiritual Science) no, no, no, but that as a family we love the unique character of this particular Steiner school. Recently there's been a small debate about how to motivate children to try hard. I was sitting with a group of women who all contribute their Wednesday mornings to the group effort of making handmade items to sell at various school events as a fundraiser, and we were discussing our school's approach(es) compared to other schools.
There were several different views but one conversation that predominated was about how the constant use of reward-based motivational systems sometimes leads children to expect praise for every single little thing they do, which is counter-productive because it doesn't lead them to try really, really hard to achieve something. I don't want to get into a big debate about it, but it was interesting because recently our new Principal proposed the idea of a Golden Book, a book in which the names of children who have made an exceptional effort (not necessarily in an academic area) are recorded as a way of acknowledging their achievement publically. At first I found it slightly 'off' in that it didn't seem to resonate with the steadfastly non-competitive character of Steiner education, but one of the teachers suggested I looked at it as a balance to the inevitably punitive policies about discipline and welfare. We have plenty of ideas about how to punish unacceptable behaviour, but how do we balance that with publically recognising good behaviour, beyond the obvious praise from teachers? As a parent - and not one with well-thought-out views on these things - I found it interesting.
Even more interesting is the fact that I've been commissioned to make the Golden Book! And I decided to have a little fun with what could otherwise have been a very straightforward case-bound book with ruled page by trying out The Secret Belgian Binding for the first time.
As someone who once lived in Belgium, how could I resist? And it is a gorgeous binding, inside and out.
I've ruined the otherwise ordered and evenly spaced inside cover by making the stitching over the spine irregular, which is mirrored inside.
If you're interested in discovering its secrets you can do no better than to look HERE for very easy-to-follow instructions. I, meanwhile, have been making a pile of sketchbooks to sell using this method of binding and incorporating inlays of polished pebbles and sea glass... In fact, if you're wondering why I'm suddenly showing up on your blog comments as "Rhubarb" rather than "SCB" it will all be revealed shortly, but you can get a sneak peak at things HERE.
I forgot to take photos of the text block in progress but never mind. The process of lacing it into the spine can get a bit tricky but you end up with a lovely robust spine on an intriguing binding. And I had extra fun setting up a jig so that I could slot in each sheet of heavy paper and rule it quickly and easily.