Did you know that the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal for education is
“To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”?
As crafters, we all know how enriching it is to learn and master a handicraft and, for many of us, that experience was gifted to us at a young age by a forward thinking adult. Indeed, for some, what started as a childhood hobby became a passion and then an opportunity to make a living which has itself represented a lifelong learning opportunity to us.
There’s no denying that connecting children and young people with traditional techniques and skills to teach them to create handmade items enhances their education and makes it more inclusive. Many a creative genius experienced struggles with academic subjects at school and yet their creative talent was undeniable. The opportunity to learn crafting skills and techniques as part of a balanced curriculum offered a place for them to excel along with their peers.
Nowadays, it does seem that in our schools craft education plays second fiddle to a system geared towards theoretical knowledge and digital learning. Added to this the instant dopamine rush of social media and online gaming available to young people and there is a real danger that the benefits of learning craft techniques and the joy of experimenting with materials will be lost to many.
Our current generation of young people are being taught to value speed, efficiency, and technological advancements when working with your hands is slow work requiring patience, concentration, and practice. Speed, efficiency, and technological advancements are all good things but we also need to consider that we have a crisis of mental health being experienced by the young. So shouldn’t we also be offering them the kinds of activities that don’t contribute to the general level of panic? There are so many mental health benefits that come from slowing down and focusing on doing something peaceful and tactile, and creating a tangible product with your hands boosts confidence and self-worth. Crafting provides an antidote to this fast-paced world of instant gratification.
The good news is of course that there are many young people who know this already and are active on YouTube and other social media platforms, making a name for themselves by posting videos of themselves in action, whether they are drawing, painting or crafting. They know that combining handicrafts and Youtube is a match made in heaven!
So what’s to be done in general about passing on traditional skills and techniques to the next generation in order to ensure their survival? (I did mean the survival of the skills and techniques, but they won’t do the next generation any harm, that’s for sure). Maybe you are interested in connecting young people with traditional art or craft techniques, but you’re not sure where to start or how to do it in a safe, genuine and responsible way. Perhaps the techniques you use are potentially unsafe (I’m thinking chainsaw carving as an example). Thankfully, the digital world has opened up possibilities for us to share our skills. Having your own YouTube channel means that you can share your love for your trade and even go viral! (More on how to start one later).
We’ve put together a few suggestions below for artists and crafters looking for opportunities to give the next generation a helping hand into the wonderful world of craft.
This is where craft fairs can come in handy; they provide a place where young people can explore creative activities and develop new skills. If you’re running a craft stall however, it’s essential that you make sure you have craft fair public liability insurance. Craft fair public liability insurance will protect you from any legal action taken against you if something goes wrong.
If you are offering young people a free learning opportunity in the form of ‘having a go’ at your craft fair stall it’s also a good idea to get parental permission. And with parental permission (you’ll need to have a consent form for parents/carers to sign, at hand) you could even film and show young people learning on your social media to help spread the message.
Make sure that whatever activity you plan, it is age appropriate, safe, and involves minimal supervision from adults. Then, with parental permission and craft fair public liability insurance in place your young participants are safe, any damage to property is covered and you can go right ahead and impact some young lives for the better!
Another way to pass on your skills and encourage the next generation is to get involved with a charity (such as https://www.craftscouncil.org.uk) that helps young people who have an interest in craft and making. The many activities they support offer multiple opportunities to join in and help safeguard traditional handicrafts for the future.
Become a YouTuber
An obvious way to connect with young people AKA ‘digital natives’ is to speak to them in the place where they hang out! In order to become a YouTuber you will need to create a Google account, if you don’t already have one. Then, you can have as many YouTube channels as you want on that one Google account. Here is how to do it:
1. Go on the Youtube app and click the profile icon. Click on ‘log in with your Google account’ and add your details.
2. Go on Youtube and watch other people presenting the same material that you want to and study how they make their videos and tutorials. Find a style of presentation and editing that you like. Now you can forge your own signature style as you start to upload.
3. Make your film to showcase your skills. The easiest way to do this is with a smart phone.
4. Edit your film. The easiest way to edit your video is with your smart phone. You’ll need to download the IMovie app (this only works for IPhones, other apps such as CapCut work for other smart phones) to edit your videos as it’s the easiest way to edit your content. If you are unsure of how to upload your videos onto Youtube from your phone you can select ‘upload video’ through the ‘plus’ icon at the bottom of the screen.
5. Try and comment a lot on other people’s pages. Find connections with established YouTubers where there is common ground and comment on what they are already doing. Ask these people for ‘shout outs’ for your videos (so they mention what you are doing to all of their followers) and that will increase your reach. Pick someone with around 100,000 followers, if it’s more than that they probably won’t bother getting back to you.
6. If you want more reach (more people clicking on your videos) YouTube shorts is how to do it. Shorts are usually twenty – thirty seconds and they are what the majority of young people are scrolling through, (similar to Tik Tok). You can edit these down from longer videos and give some useful info along with a link that takes the viewer to the longer video.
7. And finally, look on YouTube to learn anything on this topic. Literally anything about learning to become a YouTuber is already on YouTube!
Do share with us if there is anything that you are already doing for the next generation by passing on traditional techniques, we’d love to hear from you!