Knitting Politics

I am in Shetland at present and the latest stushie here is over knitting in schools.  Since the 1970s, knitting has been taught in Shetland’s primary schools, currently employing 14 part-time members of staff and costing £130,000 per year.  The education people feel that this would be a possible thing to cut to save money.

A few weeks ago there was the same situation with free music tuition in schools.  In both cases the ‘keep it’ side say that these are important cultural activities and so should be available to every child.  The ‘cut it’ side say that they are things which, while very good, cannot be said to be essential to a child’s education.

In the UK such things are decided at local level, and the truth of the matter is that big cuts are going to have to be made somewhere.  Shetland has been relatively rich over the past 30 years due to the oil revenue, but that is declining just as global recession and all its ramifications are kicking in.  The net result is that the Council here are going to have to make difficult decisions.  Something is going to have to go, and while I am all for as many children as possible learning both knitting and music at school, I personally feel that learning science is much more important…

And on a wide, UK level, remember that post a week or two back about Alistair Carmichael’s gansey??  It was picked up by the Lib Dem newspaper, and both post and some comments were quoted.  I am indebted to Rosemary (purlrose) on Ravelry for that info!  She is going to send me the cutting…!

Meanwhile, I am going to have to wait another day for my wheel.  It is on Yell, a short ferry ride away.  The ferries connect with the land through a piece of kit known as a linkspan – heavy engineering job.  And last week a very low tide plus other factors caused the linkspan at the top of Mainland here to fail.  We heard tonight that the repair was completed this evening, but it means that it will be at least Wednesday before we can go up to Yell to collect the wheel, and then on to Unst to see folk there…

I will be patient…


7 thoughts on “Knitting Politics

  1. Science is important but I also think that teaching children to do something with their hands and entertain themselves is important. One of the biggest problems we have here is that children do not know how to entertain themselves. They cannot create things so they go out and destroy things instead. I would push for the knitting to be retained and taught in the context of science and mathematics. (Have a look at the Woolly Thoughts lot and see what they do.) I would be interested to know what you think.

    1. Here in the Northern Isles (both Orkney and Shetland) there is plenty for kids to do – and they do it!! My guess is that if and when knitting comes out of the school timetable there will be people who will volunteer to teach it. That already happens on several Orkney islands for a variety of crafts…


  2. Much as I think the world would be a better place were I in charge, decisions like this make me quite glad I’m not actually the buck-stopper.

  3. I’m glad you’re able to wait out the repair of the linkspan. It would have been a shame to go all that way and not get up to Yell.

  4. Often politicians will threaten something they think people will protect in order to get permission to raise taxes; in my childhood home town they would routinely threaten to cut the library budget.

    My mother had us take the “frill” courses in high school because if we didn’t go to college, that would be our only exposure to culture. Metaphorically, frills are important. Without them we’re in drab, uninspiring pajamas.

  5. I agree – to teach knitting can be done by volunteers – teaching science like this would be very difficult or impossible! on the other hand – I find it sad that kids’ education is usually one of the first things that’s cut down!

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