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Origami teaches the unexpected

Updated on February 11, 2016
2D origami heart
2D origami heart


Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, is a common activity in many parts of the world with origins dating back to the 12th century. The activity involves folding paper of different shapes and sizes into various objects or creatures, preferably without cutting, gluing or drawing on the paper (Kao, 2001).

The more obvious benefits of origami are educational in nature. A recent study by Boakes (2009) highlighted the positive impact that origami has on students mathematical knowledge and spatial abilities. Other studies considered the usefulness of origami in the education of children with disabilities. Chen (2006) focused on the teaching of Mathematics for deaf students or those who are hard of hearing whereas Sze (2005) emphasized more on how Art therapy using origami can benefit students with different disability conditions. Interestingly, origami also has health benefits. The results of a pilot controlled trial carried out in the United Kingdom (UK) in 2008 showed the effectiveness of origami on overall hand function after injury. The participants in the study enjoyed the origami sessions and preferred it more than the conventional physical therapy methods. The above mentioned studies prove that origami brings about multiple benefits to those who practise it.

However, this article is not just about the benefits of origami. In this short write-up, I intend to share with you, the reader, on three lessons one can learn about life through origami. So, here goes:

3D origami flower (lily) with stalk and leaf.
3D origami flower (lily) with stalk and leaf.

1. Mistakes are simply part of life. Never give up. Try and try again!

Origami may sound like a straightforward activity. Given a set of instructions, people are required to make specific creases and folds to create 2-dimensional or 3-dimensional objects. However, many still make mistakes following the instructions provided and it is often difficult to make the perfect fold in the first attempt. It takes some time for people to master folding any particular object.

Acknowledging the normality of making mistakes in origami, one should also accept the fact that mistakes are normal in life. Thus, it is more important that one does not give up after committing a mistake and instead learn from the mistake and if possible never repeat it. Also, in line with the idea of learning from ones mistakes, Groucho Marx, a witty American comedian, once said Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.

2. Never stop Learning. Make the process more fun!

Origami is an epitome of an activity that can make learning fun. Teaching about shapes and geometry to children through origami is truly engaging and it has strong positive correlation with the childrens mental development as well.

One should always think of ways to make the journey of lifelong learning more exciting and enjoyable. This encourages the positive habit of continuous self-improvement and the whole society would gain by reaping the positive externalities off a more educated and civilised community.

3. Beauty lies everywhere. Understand and you will appreciate.

Beautiful objects can be crafted out of plain papers or even recycled pieces of used paper with the right moulding and folding. Even if an origami artwork is flawed, one can actually even dismantle or redo the folds to make it look better and nicer. Moreover, the potential and value of a piece of paper tends to be underrated before the completion of the origami object.

Although origami creates beautiful physical art forms, one can learn to appreciate hidden or inner beauty by understanding origami. One should not judge on the beauty of other people or things before truly learning about them. Just as you should not judge a book by its cover, you should not judge anything merely through its exterior looks.

Last words

Summing it all up, I hope that you learnt a thing or two about origami after reading this article but if you can only have 3 takeaways, remember that mistakes are part of life, never stop learning and beauty is everywhere.

Origami is like an endless adventure. Start yours today. Pick up Origami.
Origami is like an endless adventure. Start yours today. Pick up Origami.


Levenson, G. (1995). The educational benefits of origami. Retrieved February,17, 2009.
Kao, A. (2001). Origami and Paper Airplanes. Virtual Mentor, 3(4).
Sze, S. (2005). Effects of Origami Construction on Children with Disabilities.Online Submission.
Chen, K. (2006). Math in motion: Origami math for students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Journal of deaf studies and deaf education, 11(2), 262-266.
Wilson, L. M., Roden, P. W., Taylor, Y., & Marston, L. (2008). The effectiveness of origami on overall hand function after injury: a pilot controlled trial. The British Journal of Hand Therapy, 13(1), 12-20.
Boakes, N. (2009). Origami-Mathematics Lessons: Researching its Impact and Influence on Mathematical Knowledge and Spatial Ability of Students.

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