As an occupational therapy student, you may hear various nuggets of information about different courses from upperclassmen. You are forewarned by your elders that neurology lab is synonymous with death, and your thesis project will consume your entire senior year.
Additionally, you’re told of a class you take sophomore year called “Occupational Science lab,” or as I prefer to call it, “craft lab.” In this class, students examine different forms of crafting, and apply it to occupational therapy. To those outside the occupational therapy program, it may sound like we get to knit and bake for college credit.
It’s not all knitting and decorating cookies, however. Students are expected to analyze certain activities, and understand the required body functions for each activity. Students also apply which activity would best suite certain age groups or disabilities.
Currently enrolled in this class, I was excited to unleash my inner craft goddess, and learn more about OT. Having a slight knowledge of crocheting and cooking bestowed upon me by my grandma, I thought this class would be a piece of cake. I was wrong.
The first craft I was assigned to create was a potholder. The instructions sounded simple enough: Apply your colorful loopers on a loom, thread a weaving hook through the loopers, and take the whole thing off the loom when you’re done. Boom! You’ve got a potholder. Sounds easy, right?
Apparently, my inner craft goddess would NOT be unleashed by making a potholder. After meticulously choosing colors for the loopers, I spent about 20 minutes trying to place the loopers on the loom without breaking the elastic. No such luck. Frustrated, I moved onto the next step – weaving a hook through the recent loopers, alternating between maneuvering the loopers over and under.
During this step, I noticed my professor looming (no pun intended) over my shoulder. I glanced up and enthusiastically asked if my potholder was looking okay. My professor meticulously studied the loom, and informed me that I had several holes in my weaving. Grumbling, I began to start over.
By the time I had re-woven my potholder, some of the other students in the lab were already packing up and leaving. Panicking, I hastily proceeded onto the last step of the assignment – taking the newly formed potholder off the loom.
This step involved a mechanism used with the weaving hook, but with time fleeting, I decided to forgo the hook altogether and use my fingers. The final product looked more like a type of microorganism than a square potholder, but I was proud of it nonetheless. I knew my potholder wasn’t perfect, but hey, it was something I created, and is the perfect coaster for my morning cup of coffee. I began to realize why crafting in OT was important; it made the client feel productive and useful.
The morals of my experience are: It’s better to form your own opinions on a class rather than what other people say; if at first you don’t succeed, try again; and lastly, just because something isn’t “perfect,” doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable.