Monday, August 25, 2008

What do we do with tools? At this point, I am working on my paper to be presented in Finland and working on the details of my trip. We are taking my daughter Lucy to Columbia University in New York City to begin her Sophomore year and will leave on Wednesday. I'll be taking my research with me and will be trying to compose my thoughts on the laptop while we travel. I spent part of yesterday collecting photos from my files for illustration of the paper, the students at Clear Spring School at work.

So, why are tools important and what do we do with them?
Some tools are used to make things. Think of a knife, hammer and saw.
Some tools are used to communicate. Think of a fountain pen as an example.
Some tools are used to study natural phenomena. Think of a weather vane.
Some tools are used organize things. An example is the mineral collection boxes we make in Earth Sciences at Clear Spring School.
Some tools are dual purpose and are used in both study and the making of objects. Think of a measure or square.

Do you have any others to add?

Thomas Carlyle (785-1891) said:
"Man is a tool using animal. He can use tools, can devise tools; with these the granite mountains melt in light dust before him; he kneads iron as if it were soft paste; seas are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwearying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all!
Charles H. Hamm, from Mind and Hand:
The great gulf between the aboriginal savage and the civilized man is spanned by the seven hand-tools--the axe, the saw, the plane, the hammer, the square, the chisel and the file. These are the universal tools of the arts, and the modern machine-shop is an aggregation of them rendered automatic and driven by steam.
At this point in human culture, the widely held perception is that the tools of human creativity have been largely supplanted by the computer. And the divide between the advantaged economies and poverty and repression is a digital one. The solution proposed by some is expressed in the 1 laptop per child movement. But has the computer truly supplanted other tools in human creativity? Or is it just the application of greater steam, leading to even less personal involvement and expression? I will try to have an open mind. If any of my readers are willing to add their thoughts, now is the time. You may use the comments function or contact me via email. The email address is at right.

1 comment:

  1. Some tools are also used for the dual purposes of "making things" and "communicating" -- e.g., the paintbrush, the pencil, sometimes even the computer (via peripheral outputs).