Friday, October 19, 2007

I was thinking this morning about how unusual it is for children to be asked to use knives in school and realizing how unlikely it will be that other schools will follow the example we set. Even in scouting children and adults are no longer trusted. The following is from a recent email from John Grossbohlin:
My sons and I had a conversation about the issue of toys vs. tools and play vs. fun learning Wednesday evening while returning from the wood-turners club. It was evident during the conversation that my sons have noticed how sheltered their peers are from doing anything "real."

I am astounded at how many parents react with horror that I have the Cub Scouts use a real pocket knife and a real piece of wood when I teach the Whittl'n Chip card. Pretty much all the Packs and even the Boy Scout camp staff have the boys use a butter knife, sometimes plastic, and a bar of soap to learn how to use a knife... Ignoring the dull vs. sharp issue for a moment, how, I ask, is someone supposed to learn about stop cuts, splitting cuts, paring cuts, etc. if there is no grain and the medium crumbles????

Even my son's Boy Scout Troop is reluctant to let the boys actually use knives... It's as if they expect the kids to somehow "know" how to use a knife and other tools when they become adults--which judging by what I see adults do is a foolish assumption!

What I found kind of odd is that Jesse used my 3/4 axe to chop down the dead peach tree in our yard and I thought he'd be proud to tell his peers but he never told anyone at school or Scouts. Nor does he mention target shooting with a .22 rifle or 28 gauge shotgun. It seems that doing these things is not socially acceptable any longer... people only see danger and law suits and never stop to think that there are proper ways to use these tools and with proper instruction and following the rules they can be used safely. What has happened in the 40 years since I was my sons' ages... has the populace become so risk averse as to be useless?
I guess if you were to watch TV much at all, you would see knives used time and time again, as instruments of torture and terror. So, in our culture, I can understand the parental desire to shelter children from risk. But television and our own fears are creating a perverse understanding of the tools that have shaped our culture through countless generations. Shame on us. To avoid the small risk of injury, we have created the certainty of undue fear, dark fantasy, and loss of relationship with common instruments of creative potential.

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