Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Golden Book

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.


Anna Mavromatis said...

If I was a student at Steiner school, I would do my super duper best to have my name included in The Golden Book! Truly a special book, Sara. Congratulations and best of luck to all your projects!

Leslie Avon Miller said...

What a fun reason to make a great book! I'm sure each pupil will remember the day their name was entered in THE book!

ronnie said...

gorgeous book sara! I've not encountered 'secret belgian binding' before - I must go forth and discover more!

I'm also taken by your story about how to motivate/moderate children's behaviour and to what ends..... It's a tough one....

Most of society it seems rewards behaviour that is ethically if not morally questionable (ends defeat the means, he who dies richest wins, beauty is more important than talent, sensationalism is the key to success, 'when I grow up I want to be famous', screw the little people, surface over authenticity .... ad infinitum...)


Our great goal is to steer our kidlins successfully through this maze - gosh it's a tough gig!

Carol said...

Lovely Golden Book and really nice to see the variation on the stitches. Lucky children to have this opportunity.

Fiona Dempster said...

Sara - a beautiful Goldenbook - I like the stitching on the cover as well. Thanks for the link to the SBB; I have never stitched a spine to a cover so that might be a new one to try. Your first attempt looks very professional; unlike most of my first trials!


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