The photo above is my box making class at Woodcraft No. 321 in Sterling Heights. The time was too short, and it seemed that we had to go too lightly through some of the things we wanted to cover. But each student was able to take home a box reflecting his own effort, his own learning, his individuality and the beauty of wood. Tomorrow morning I fly home to prepare for classes at Clear Spring School.
As an interesting note, I asked my students this weekend, "How many of you are 'hands-on learners'? All hands shot up. There seem to be a lot more of us than most schools seem to know about.
By coincidence, if there actually is such a thing, Trevor Smith, my shop assistant for the weekend, had read an earlier article I had written about Sloyd and used it to help parents in his high school hands-on physics class come to a better understanding of the role of the hands in learning. Trevor has developed an advanced physics curriculum for his high school using rocketry and robotics. His class has become extremely popular on the campus of one of the finest high schools in America. He had noted that in most classes, students watch the clock and can hardly wait to be dismissed, but that it is different when the students are engaged in making things.
This is from Trevor:
I look forward to future conversations
about how we might continue to provide and find new avenues to provide rich educational experiences through hands-on learning. You have confirmed for me what I have been learning through my own students that there is something quite special and dare we say "magical" about engaging students brains in their own learning through the use of their hands. I tell my students that it is just another type of problem
solving. They seem to get this because they hear the term "problem-solving" in their other classes. I tell them that the problems presented in my classroom will require the coordinated efforts of their brains and hands.
We are gradually building a network, a language, and a persuasive body of shared experience. Thanks Trevor, for joining hands.