Friday, January 05, 2007

Last year, I worked with Jack Grube, president of the New England Association of Woodworking Teachers to come up with the following list, 21 Reasons for the 21st Century which was distributed to High School administrators throughout New England.

I would like to note that these same 21 reasons also apply at all grade levels. I seem to be one of very few to advocate woodworking in elementary school. A magazine editor recently asked me about the Wisdom of the Hands "movement." I told him, there is no "movement" as yet. The movement will come when some of the readers of this blog start doing something. Invite your children or grandchildren to your woodshop. If you don't have a woodshop, buy some tools and start working first. If you aren't interested in woodworking, start in the kitchen or garden. Then armed with what your hands have given you, talk to the parents and teachers in your community about the role of the hands in learning. We know we will have a "movement" when tools are put in the hands of children and their hands are allowed to arise in service of knowledge and intelligence.

Woodworking education:
1. Assists students in communicating and
understanding ideas non-verbally, through
sketches and technical drawings.
2. Enhances the skills of spatial visualization
required for geometry, trigonometry and algebra,
thereby helping students to prepare for careers
in engineering, architecture and science.
3. Provides students with take-home, physical
evidence of their mastery of skills.
4. Instills a pride of accomplishment and
5. Gives the student the opportunity to execute
precise work and to produce useful products,
and become “self-assessors” using measuring
tools, squares, etc. and then the fit of things to
self-assess the quality of their work.
6. Trains the eye and hand to see accurately and
to feel the sense of beauty in form.
7. Inculcates the habits of attention, perseverance
and patience.
8. Offers opportunities for students to go where
their hearts demand by selecting designs and
projects that motivate them not only as a
woodworker but also as a student.
9. Provides opportunities for students to overcome
setbacks that occur when working on real
10. Provides relevancy of other subject matter to
their lives, thereby preparing them for a lifetime
of learning.
11. Provides non-academic areas for demonstration
of skills and pursuit of excellence.
12. Provides a non-contrived opportunity for
engagement of multiple intelligences.
13. Provides an opportunity to engage physically
and actively in learning exercises.
14. Provides an opportunity for engagement and
success even for those disinclined for academic
15. Helps students gain confidence as real world
problem solvers.
16. Helps students gain confidence in tools use and
learn safety considerations required for a career,
lifetime of general home maintenance or a
life-long hobby.
17. Offers an appreciation for the values inherent
in physical labor and the work contributions of
18. Connects students to thousands of years of
human creative endeavor.
19. Provides a much-needed break from oppressive
classroom routine.
20. Helps students to better understand the sources
and process of technological change, placing
human development in historical context.
21. Is a class that students enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:36 AM

    Doug, what a great post... this hit so close to home for my daughter and I. My daughter is 10, and we recently built a large shelving unit with her Junior Girl Scout troop. We had to use the cafeteria at school - so I precut all of the casework. Then the girls, using a number of different tools, power and hand, measured, marked, predrilled, drilled, sanded and assembled the cases. They were recently installed at the local food pantry - where they have done many hours of community work. It's easy to get them in the shop, and once they are there, the light in their eyes as they complete a great project is inspiration at it's greatest.

    Keep up the good work, I will pass on the link to your blog to some friends.

    Gail O'Rourke
    Hometown Woodworking