Wednesday, October 22, 2008

This morning in the Clear Spring School wood shop the 5th and 6th grade students continued work on their Soma cube puzzles. We will oil them next week and begin a more intense woodworking project... yet to be decided.

Clear Spring lower elementary school teacher Jenny Ammusen is reading the Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louve and has resolved to tackle "nature deficit disorder" in our children by pledging at least one hour a day outdoor learning time. We are fortunate that our school is located in a wooded area and the campus is filled with natural beauty.

At the other end of the school experience, Pete Golden, our high school science and math teacher is currently teaching Botany. On their first day they learned to identify over 40 plants on campus. Last week we made numbered stakes so that locations can be marked. They will develop a key that can be used by all students in the identification of plant species. Tomorrow the 9th and 10 grade students will begin work on the lathe, making wood samples for a permanent high school collection.

In the meantime, science for most students has become something distant and detached from their own lives. Real scientific investigation and observation has been left to experts. It seems that truth is no longer a matter for direct personal observation and analysis, but a matter of well orchestrated manipulation of public opinion... a thing made easy by the sense of incompetence engendered by school.

If you want to learn truth, you start with simple things. A knife passing through a piece of wood tells the truth of its grain. It won't lie. It is not subject to the mis-interpretion and manipulation by those who would use our self-doubt and uncertainties to leverage their control. Science has to begin with the experience of the real, and without the opportunity to interact with real materials, our students are handicapped, and our nation is destined toward decline.


  1. Anonymous2:34 PM

    doug a great book to check out is A handmade Life By Bill Coperthwaite also dealing with how we raise our youth. Also I sent the following to your email

  2. I agree. Bill Coperthwaite's book is a good one. I met Bill at a Clear Spring School yurt making workshop about 7 years ago, and have written an article about crooked knives in Woodwork magazine, inspired in part by that experience. We would all benefit by having more nature and more crafts and self-reliance built into our lives, and Bill is a great living example.

    Interestingly Bill has his Ph.D. in education from Harvard.

  3. Doug,

    I just finished "Last Child in the Woods" myself, and it is a powerful read. Kudos to your school for realizing this deficit and doing something about it. You are working in a VERY special place...

  4. John,

    I teach in a very special place... I would have never dared to attempt the Wisdom of the Hands program in any other educational environment.