Saturday, August 13, 2011

The sorting ceremony

I recently updated the ` page on my Serenely Made blog to give a bit more background on where on earth this whole sewing thing came from. No I did not just pull it out of a hat, there is a story.

Anyway while I was writing that About page, I started recalling my high school days which was partially where I picked up some of my sewing. Those of you from Malaysia would remember this one subject called Kemahiran Hidup or Living Skills and all the fun stuff we got to do as part of it.

The class was divided into two streams – a home economics version which was deemed to be the girly stream, and a sort of boy-version comprising of woodwork, electrical wiring, and plumbing type stuff.

I believe in most co-ed schools, girls were naturally streamed into home economics and boys into the hardware-store stuff. However as I went to an all girls school it was a bit trickier to manage. So our teacher found an easy way out...

She employed a sort of ‘sorting ceremony’ akin to the one at Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, except the hat did not sing songs or yell out where you were sorted into. Everyone simply had to pick a slip of paper out of a hat which would specify which stream you were designated to. It was an unimaginative method which I’m certain caused much grief and disappointment for some.

During the sorting ceremony, it was interesting to see the various reactions it generated. The hardware-store-side was generally seen as somewhat superior because it kind of reinforced the modern feminist view that females should not be stereotyped into a cooking-sewing-cleaning mould. Hence choosing the ‘opposite’ of that stereotype was deemed the ‘strong’ choice.

I happened to pick a home economics stream from the hat which I didn’t mind. Some girls around me were wailing at being unfairly forced into the domesticated stream but I was pretty easy going either way. I was glad I picked it in the end, especially for the cooking sessions. What better way to spend a period making something yummy and getting to eat it afterwards.

I remember our first sewing project which was to make our own apron. We all had to use the same blue and white checked gingham fabric but we were allowed to embroider and embellish it any way we wish. Most of the girls did little cross-stitch patterns on the checks. As for me, my mum taught me a few simple embroidery stitches and I embellished mine with a small red and yellow flowers nestled in green leaves and vines.

Unfortunately some of my classmates who were unsuccessful in persuading the teacher to swap them across to the other stream pretty much sulked the entire year for the class and constantly whined how boring it was and how much they hated sewing, cooking and all such household stuff. Which is a shame.

It made me wonder at how some people can get so caught up over a “belief” (or non-belief of something) that they fail to understand their real reasons behind holding that belief in the first place.

So what’s the point of this whole story? Well if you wanna take a leaf from my page, try not to let your “identity” hold you back. You are constantly evolving and changing as a person and will continue to do so. Who you are today will not be who you are tomorrow. So why not do something you’ve never done before? Trust me. You really might surprise yourself.

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