Friday, October 18, 2019

skills of hand, mind and eye

I have been on a push of late to assure intellectual content in providing lessons in the wood shop. This is based in part on the medical school prescription, see one, do one, teach one.

When you have the responsibility to teach someone else how to do something, you are required to do something more than go through empty exercises. Those exercises are observed, brought to mind, and absorbed at a deeper level. Questions about that? Do something real and then accept the responsibility to teach someone else what you've learned to do and you'll see what I mean.

My students love nothing better than "free day" in which they get to do anything they want, but they also like when I have concrete examples of things they can make and have the necessary materials on hand. The important thing for me as their teacher is that they gain both knowledge and skill, which of course go hand in hand. If I've built those lessons into the day, I've met my goals, and can feel OK as some students do whatever they want, while others work from the designs and materials I offer.

We have been working on the idea of square. Not the shape square, but the geometric relationship of planes (not airplanes) (and not the tools called "planes") that meet at 90 degrees. This requires an understanding of the use of the tool by the same name, the "square." It allows us to check our work, to assure that parts will indeed fit together as planned. We do this with the hand plane and the saw, and use the square to mark intended cuts and to assess the results of our work.

The plane is a particularly pleasing tool. The shavings are a delight.  A sharp plane leaves a surface smoother than sanding. It can be pirated just for he pleasure of its shavings. To form a straight, square edge, it requires attention to grip, posture and position. And the square is the perfect tool to check results. The students can check for themselves and the process invites them to do so.

With the elementary school students this week I offered lessons in engineering. An object that's not cut square will not stand straight up in opposition to gravitational force. An object standing straight up will not resist motion, and will not have strength unless other means are used to secure its attachment. I invited the students to offer suggestions as to how a stick could mounted to a flat plane, with sufficient strength to resist the forces involved in gravity and motion. They suggested using small building blocks to surround the pole that give more strength when glued in place. Others suggested strings and sticks to "triangulate" the attachment. As simple as their constructions were, they were pleased with them, with what they had learned about very basic engineering.

Make, fix and create... Provide for others to learn lifewise.

Monday, October 14, 2019

rafters

The new outdoor classroom being built on the Clear Spring School as an eagle scout project now has rafters. Four more rafter are to be added to the ends  providing overhang before the purlins and metal roof are added.

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

Saturday, October 12, 2019

boxes by Don.

A box making friend of mine has announced his retirement and going out of business sale. Don Boudreau is an excellent artist and craftsman whose combinations of exotic woods are lovely.

Don had arranged for me to visit and teach in years past with the South Florida Woodworking Guild of which he was an officer and long time member. You can tell from just one sample of his work that he attained a great deal of skill and artistic vision. His shop that he plans to close is full of amazing equipment set up to achieve perfection in each piece.

I wish him well. In the meantime, he is selling is work at a steep 50% discount. https://www.boxesbyboudreau.com/ The box shown is one of my favorites.

Don, now 81 years old is moving into a retirement community with 2 6000 square foot wood shops where he'll no doubt continue to be an inspiration to others.

A good friend of mine, and fellow artist Ken Addington passed away this last week after a long bout with cancer. Ken's work was an inspiration for the artists of Eureka Springs. He will be missed. Ken made an appearance in this video at the 1:05 point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOnmWiLs5YA telling the story of what brought him to Eureka Springs and why he kept coming back. It was about the beauty of this place and the people that help to support each other in their artistic endeavors.

An example is the Eureka Artist's Studio Tour November 1 and 2 and of which I'll be a part. The studio tour was organized by our local artists and 13 artist studios including my own will be open for visitors.

Teachers and craftsmen have an important thing in common. We want to share what we've learned with new generations. We  know that what we know and what we do are important to human culture and to our own communities. We hope that what we've learned is passed on to be of greater use.

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

Thursday, October 10, 2019

K

For years my woodworking program had focused on grades 1-12. Last year we added Kindergarten woodworking classes, and so I've been building a set of designs that interest kids of the younger set, and that enable them to develop skills that will be useful later in woodshop and beyond.

Yesterday we made key holders. The idea is that even Kindergarten students can make things that are beautiful and useful to members of their families. Unlike refrigerator art, these pieces will be kept for years to come as evidence of learning and of growth.

One of my upper middle school students finished and delivered a music stand to her music teacher yesterday. That was exciting for all. Clear Spring School students grades 1-6 were camping at Lake Leatherwood City Park last night.

My new woodshop addition is ready for sheet rock and we are planning the conversion of the back porch of the Poe Hands on Learning Center to an art room. The long porch is ideally suited to arrangement in "centers" each offering a special aspect of the visual and constructive arts.

Make, fix, create and assure that all have the opportunity to learn lifewise.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

shavings.

Yesterday we had a practice day with planes in grades 1-6. My hope was to get the students to observe the quality of their work, and to test their work for square by using a square. How you hold the plane and move it across wood can be either mindless or mindful, so I paired the students up so they could observe and offer hints to each other.

I've been using the medical school model, See one, do one, teach one, relying on my more experienced students to share what they've learned with each other but also thereby helping the "teacher" reach a greater depth of understanding.

We bring what the hands begin to understand through the mind and back to the hands,  and again through the mind creating a feedback loop.

The shavings that come from the plane are fascinating to the kids. The shavings can also be read to understand what the plane has done and how it is impacting the wood. To work well requires attention to posture, grip, position, and fluid motion in both body and mind.

In addition to training the kids to plane wood, they are also being exercised in mindfulness and are honing their powers of direct observation. The shavings, all carefully gathered, present evidence of learning.

Make, fix, create and adjust schooling so all children learn lifewise.

Monday, October 07, 2019

What the school has to do

The following is from Albert Szent-Györgyi in his essay "Teaching and Expanding Knowledge". Albert Szent-Györgyi won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of Vitamin C in 1937.
"So what the school has to do. in the first place. is to make us learn how to learn, to whet our appetites for knowledge. to teach us the delight of doing a job well and the excitement of creativity, to teach us to love what we do, and to help us to find what we love to do." – Albert Szent-Györgyi 
 He noted that "a discovery must be, by definition, at variance with existing knowledge," and so, should schools focus on sequestering children among known facts, or launch them with confidence toward the unknown? Let's consider the school wood shop as a laboratory in which discoveries are made.

Make, fix, create, and adjust schooling so children learn likewise.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

outdoor classroom

Our eagle scout candidate made great progress with his crew in building the outdoor classroom at the Clear Spring School. It now has a floor, posts, and is ready for construction of the roof to begin. I helped with the design, the preparation of the materials list, and have been one of several advisors on the project.

Rain today has brought the project to a halt.

The open classroom when the roof is added will serve as a wonderful place for lessons during rainy fall and spring days.

Make, fix, create, and adjust schooling so that children have more time out of doors. It's necessary.