Monday, October 12, 2009

camping grades 1-6

Today the Clear Spring School students are on their fall camp out. I helped set up tents and got a few of the kids started on their whittling. This is the first test of the new sloyd knives I made to replace the set that was stolen from my school wood shop last year. I spent a few minutes today making sure they were very sharp and ready for use. John Deal referred me to an incident today in which a 6 year old was suspended and sentenced to 45 days in reform school for taking his knife/fork/spoon cub scout tool to school. It was called a "weapon" in a school with zero-tolerance for "weapons." It is a tragic situation that basic tools for cutting wood and feeding yourself could only be viewed through the darkest lens, and if the hands are, as I believe, responsible for the development of intellect, we need to re-examine our relationship with tools. I attribute our current situation to the dark fantasies portrayed in film, on TV and in computer gaming. In the days before all that, boys used their knives to go to the woods and whittle on sticks, and the greatest fear was that they might nick themselves.

The Center for Disease Control notes a shocking 50 percent increase over the last two years in the number of children diagnosed with autism. The increase may be in part because of greater attention given to screening for the disease, but may also reflect what some see as a growing epidemic affecting the emotional health and social adjustment of millions of children. Two years ago the rate was 1 in 150 and now 1 in 100 children is diagnosed as autistic.

If you study primate behavior, you can see a bit of what human beings might have been like before the modern age. There is an incredible amount of grooming going on in primate behavior directed toward their young. But today, in modern households, families may be involved in other things. The constant holding and physical attention may not happen when mother is holding a book instead, or when father is engaged with the keyboard and computer screen. What happens when the television or computer are used to babysit children? Or what happens when families are so involved in television programs, that they are in separate rooms, watching their own televisions? How much traditional primate behavior is taking place in households today? Am I the only one who wonders about this?

The photos below show setting up camp, a bit of whittling and lunch.


  1. Doug,

    I saw today online where a young child, who was excited about being a boy scout, took his multipurpose tool (spoon, fork, pocket knife) to school. He was so proud... Unfortunately, the school's zero tolerance position on "weapons" in school resulted in his suspension with a 45 day sentence to a REFORM SCHOOL. REFORM SCHOOL, for God's sake! What is going on!!!! I was appalled. While I believe in safe schools, it seems pretty clear that students at the Clear Spring School have a healthy approach to use of these "weapons." What a refreshing approach...someone in an earlier response this week commented about how fortunate you are to work in that are!!!

    I'm glad that I am approaching retirement age so that I can do things similar to what you do and not have to be involved in this silliness...

    Keep up the good work, Doug.... I would really love to meet up with you some day.


  2. JD, that is a sad story. I feel bad for the kid, and for our culture which disregards the value of tools.

    I was pleased to see that my shop made sloyd knives were working well today. They are actually better than the ones I had before, and the short blades mean that less edge is available for possible injury.

    Their use with random kids would be something I would avoid, but all our kids are pretty well known to us. We know they don't have any serious personality defects. Some spend too much time at computer games, but all are good-hearted.

    I spent a bit of time making sure they were all sharp, which would be exactly what public schools would avoid.

    I am very fortunate to teach where I do and with the staff at CSS. They make it fun.

    Yes, it would be a pleasure to meet.