Quilts, Literature, and Learning

In the IB Diploma Language and Literature course, in addition to reading literature from all genres, learners also study a wide variety of non-literary texts  in a variety of media to investigate the nature of language and the ways in which it shapes and is influenced by identity and culture.

Students take turns to iron or sew their quilt pieces together.

All the programmes in the IB Continuum (PYP, MYP, DP and CP) include interdisciplinary learning that requires learners to consider and connect complex ideas from different disciplines. Interdisciplinary learning is key to developing critical and creative thinkers who can use their skills to become positive changemakers.

For many students, the design process is thoughtful and iterative, and the pattern evolves as they work on it.

Ms. Sheila Esshaki’s grade 12 Language and Literature students studied the Ghanaian-American fiber artist Bisa Butler, and each presented one work from the recent exhibition entitled Bisa Butler-Portraits.

Ms. Esshaki consults with students on their design decisions.

In a culminating semester project, and an homage to Butler, students were inspired to create their own identity quilt. With the support of Dr. Elizabeth Perry, Technology and Innovation Coach in the Idea Lab, they chose fabric and designed and cut out symbols expressing their individuality. Then by layering contrasting fabric, they sewed and ironed their pieces onto quilt squares, which were assembled into a whole-class quilt.

The design of the quilt as a whole represents the unifying structures of their ISP experience.

The finished quilt – ready for display.

The varying motifs in the squares echo the diversity of the students’ interests and identities. The design of the quilt as a whole represents the unifying structures of their ISP experience.

“Many of these students will deepen their learning, completing an oral assessment which synthesizes a global issue, a piece of literature, and one of Butler’s works,” says Ms. Esshaki.

 “Making their own quilt squares lets students understand the medium from a different perspective.” Ms. Sheila Esshaki, Grade 12 Language and Literature

“When you physically connect two pieces of fabric, you experience the challenges and complexities of fiber art,” adds Dr. Perry, “and that may allow you to make new connections in your own analysis. Besides, we all got to share the delight of creating something beautiful together.”

Precise cutting lets students add detail to their work.

A big thank you to the Mrazova family for the many lovely fabrics that were donated to the Idea Lab. The finished quilt will soon hang on an ISP wall to celebrate the class of 2022.

Some layers of fabric are attached with heat and fusible interfacing.