Monday, August 25, 2008

I occasionally hear from readers who have found meaning in the Wisdom of the Hands Blog, and know that there has to be something in the soul and experience of these readers that allows them to understand what I try to share. What happens here is a reflection of shared wisdom and thus more meaningful than anything I might try to accomplish alone.

John J. Deal, PH.D is the dean of the School of Music, University of North Carolina, Greensboro and he wrote the following:
I have been involved in education my entire life. Now, as an administrator in the major music school in North Carolina, I am painfully aware of the unpreparedness of modern day students. I long for us to return to a simpler and more meaningful existence and, surely, process of education. One of the articles that got me interested in this thought process was a recent essay by Matthew Crawford, entitled Shopcraft as Soulcraft.

Although I have not been involved with woodworking as long as you have been, it is something that has been in my soul from the time I was a child. I watched for hours as my grandfather made things from wood in his basement workshop—mainly footstools. I learned a few rudimentary techniques, but did not jump into woodworking with both feet until a few years ago. Of course, throughout my career, I have built the requisite bookshelves upon moving into a new residence, but only recently have I become totally enamored with and immersed in wood and, more particularly, what working with wood means for the education of our children. With three very young grandchildren (all under 4 years old), I have spent plenty of waking moments figuring out how to get their heads out of the video screen and sparing them from a world of unchallenging, visual-only stimuli, while introducing them to doing things with their hands. It is my job as grandpa to do that, just as it happened to me. It is a daunting task, but I am buoyed up daily as a result of the thoughts you so eloquently voice in the blog.

Stumbling across your “Wisdom of the Hands” blog has changed me radically. I am looking forward to retiring in another 3 years, and I certainly want to be involved in working with wood. Even before discovering your blog, though, I realized that our youth have not been given the manual training that we might have had the chance to have (although because I was in the college preparatory course track in high school, wood shop was sadly NOT available to me.) I have also become acquainted with the boat building groups for young people that you reference in one of your recent posts. So, my passion for wood and woodworking has now broadened to include a much broader notion of how this fits, not only into my life, but into the lives of young people for whom we serve as models.
No doubt, some of my other readers will find common experience in what John shares. As we give voice to the meaning we find in working with our hands, others will find the encouragement and confidence to bring opportunities to their children and grandchildren and perhaps we will find ways to transform education at large.

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