Tuesday, May 21, 2019

this day...

Today we had a visit by staff members from Arkansas A+ Schools in preparation for further training in June which will allow us to become an official A+ School. A+ refers to the integration of the Arts. We do that quite well and hope that Clear Spring School can help as a role model for other schools.

Tomorrow is boat and cook out day. All of our students will go to Lake Leatherwood to play and to ride in the Bevins Skiffs we built last year.

I am working to solidify my program for the coming years. The wood shop will move this summer into the garage of our new hands-on learning center. The garage will require some expansion and so we will have a capital campaign to help it become a space for teaching teachers as well as kids. My old wood shop space will be surrendered and refurbished to provide classroom space for further growth of our school.

I've been training a possible replacement teacher, and at some point, I may step back into the sidelines. But not yet.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others have the opportunity to learn likewise.

Monday, May 20, 2019

back to the hands

Yesterday I spent most of the Books in Bloom Literary Festival hauling tents, putting up tents, parking cars, taking down tents and hauling tents back to the storage unit where they will wait for next year's event. (husbandly support)

I did attend one of the author presentations on a book about those of us who moved to the Ozark Mountains in the early to mid seventies. In it we were cleverly named "hipbillies" a term combining the terms hippies and hillbillies.

The book is largely about the "back to the land" movement that brought growth and new direction to the Ozark region. It mentions Ed Jeffords and the Ozark Institute for which I built library shelves in my small garage shop in the late 1970's. A number of my other friends are featured or mentioned in the book. Many other friends who had come and tried their best to scratch honest livings from thin and barren soils moved on to other things.

The "back to the land"movement would be better described as a "back to the hand"movement, as it was built not only of those who wanted to farm and own land  (also a return to the hand) but also those of us who had hoped for more meaningful lives as artists and craftspeople. The back to the landers would show up in Eureka Springs to "boogie." While the artists and craftspeople were here and in Mountain View or in surrounding hills, struggling to learn to make beautiful and useful things.

The book,"Hipbillies" was sold out yesterday at the event but I had the opportunity to review a copy prior to publication. It is an interesting read and a look into the history of this place that I and my friends were parts of. My own signed copy of the book will be sent by mail.

Today in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, we'll be inching toward the conclusion of the school year.

Make, fix, and create. Assure a future in which all others learn likewise.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

books in bloom (what did you learn in wood shop?)

Today is our annual Books in Bloom literary festival at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs. It's an opportunity to meet a variety of nationally known and local writers. And buy their books. Organizing Books in Bloom is one of my wife's most significant projects, so I am called in as a volunteer and sponsor.

Yesterday I picked up Jeffrey Deaver from the airport and learned that in addition to having over 40 million books in print in multiple languages, he took shop class in 7th and 8th grades. "What happened to all that, " he wondered aloud. I assured him that shop classes were on a comeback tour, just as this is Jeffrey Deaver's second visit to Eureka Springs. Shop classes are becoming popular again, driven by a renewed understanding that we need skilled workers unless we've agreed to be a nation of idle consumers and fail as a nation.

Unfortunately, the recognition that all children are brought to greater understanding and fit into the fabric of humanity and human culture and natural life, has not sunk in yet.

Jeffrey Deaver, author of many, many books, can still remember what he learned in wood shop. Ask him about it.

Make, fix, read then create. Plan for others to learn likewise.

Friday, May 17, 2019

white st. art walk

Tonight is the 29th annual White St. Walk in which yards, porches and homes along White St. in Eureka Springs will host artists selling their work. It is a major event in the year, and as usual, I'll have some of my work set up for sale at Lux Weaving Studio. I hope that a few readers can attend.

The photo shows student engagement in the arrangement and play with the large Froebel blocks in the Clear Spring School sand box. The sand, originally put in place for volleyball, provides an ideal foundation for the blocks. Once arrangements of blocks are made, the children play.

In preparation for reaccreditation at the Clear Spring School, we are  reviewing our school curriculum and scope and sequence of learning between the various age groups. One thing became clear to me in recent reading. We are a school located in a special place that affords special opportunities for place based learning. We are located in a community filled with music and the arts, with a backdrop of historic architecture, and set in a unique and rich natural environment. Our students camp, travel and play in the woods. They engage in internships, and they collaborate between grade levels.

In explaining to ISACS, our accreditation organization, what we do and how our curriculum is designed, these are important points. While most school have become walled enclaves purposely isolated from the real world. we recognize that schooling to be at its best should be connected with reality in order for learning to go deep and connect deeply.

Make, fix, create, and adjust schooling so that others play and learn likewise.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

National Arbor Day.

Yesterday was National Arbor Day and we celebrated at the Clear Spring School by planting a sugar maple along the soon to be built Clear Spring Trail that will go from the school to Harmon Park and and provide an option to walking in the road. The trail is a collaboration between the school and the parks commission and will be networked to trails throughout our city. Our mayor read a proclamation noting the importance of the day.

Today I will be setting up my display for the White St. Art Walk, one of the premier events of the May Festival of the Arts in Eureka Springs. It is a large street party, now in its 29th year. If you are local to Eureka Springs, find a place to park and come to Lux Weaving Studio 18 White St. on Friday sometime from 5-10 PM and I'll show you some of my work. Other artists will have their work on display and for sale, up and down the street.

Most artists need to sell their work in order to make more and to survive. Folks who are independently wealthy only rarely feel the need to create, but they can be of assistance to those who do.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

a highlight of the school year

One of our teachers yesterday told me that one of the highlights of the school year has been my introduction of the supersized Froebel blocks to the school playground. The kids have not tired of manipulating them into new configurations, and even with a small number of blocks the variations are endless. It helped that I introduced them only one at a time. 

The photo shows the first block, which created interest and invited manipulation. Each new element brings renewed interest.

My latest addition is a 4 x 8 plank 8 feet long with a carrying strap connected at each end. It is heavy enough that it takes more than one child to lift it into place. The straps allow it to be dragged from place to place and keep fingers from being pinched underneath.

The blocks are of a size that they require collaboration in moving and arranging, so they invite students to work together toward shared goals.

We are now in a time of year in which the students are restless and most of their assigned work has been done. On Friday I'll be selling my work in the Lux Weaving Studio during the White Street Art Walk.

Make, fix, create, and plan for others to learn likewise.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

sometimes I just don't know...

There are times when I just do not know what my students are making. For example, this work is one that defies my ability to understand. It's one that took several woodworking classes to complete. He alone knew when it was complete and ready to take home. His parents may or may not marvel at its construction. Is it fine craftsmanship? The maker was not concerned about that. Concern with such details is something that comes developmentally at a later age.

One of my first grade boys made a wooden bench and had hand planed the top. He took it home. He was proud of it. How many children of his age had ever had the opportunity to make something so useful and interesting?  His dad decided that it had not been sanded sufficiently. He took it to the garage and worked on it for an hour, bringing it closer in alignment with his own standards. Had I known I would have counseled to leave it alone.  Had he witnessed how hard his son had worked on it, he might have had a deeper appreciation for it just as it was. The student's work is their own. And we need not be overly concerned with their craftsmanship and should instead trust them with knowing when it's complete. There are stages in artistic development, in what children see and understand, and to apply adult standards to their work is to miss the point, and to miss the value of what they have accomplished.

The following post offers my own discussion of Victor Lowenfeld's writing on the stages of artistic development. https://wisdomofhands.blogspot.com/2009/10/if-you-want-science-start-with-arts.html It is particularly interesting, in that as children near adolescence, they divide roughly along two paths of development. One, Lowenfeld identified as visual, being concerned with representations of verisimilitude and the other haptic, being concerned with how things feel. I've witnessed it as children grow through their years in wood shop. There are some who are concerned only with the appearance of things and only understand the need for sanding when they see how a surface can be made to shine. Then there are those who are obsessed with how smooth they can make a surface feel to the touch.

As parents, would we expect a child to automatically develop it all at once? Or can we simply watch their growth and celebrate the signs of it?

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.