Tuesday, December 15, 2009

is sloyd an art?

There have been long years of discussion in Eureka Springs as to the relationship between arts and crafts and the differences between the two. Some differentiate between "fine arts" and crafts and "fine crafts" and art, and it becomes a challenge to sort out who's talking about what.

And so where does Educational Sloyd fit in? Is it one or the other? Art or craft? I propose neither. Its purpose is not the promotion of arts OR crafts, its product is not the objects produced. Its purpose and method are the promotion of skill, intelligence, mental capacity, and democratic values within schools and within society at large. So instead of being either, it is a specific developmental or formative method of both and of all. If a school has Sloyd, does it still need art? If it has art, does it still need Sloyd? You are welcome to chime it. Comment. Discuss.

My own feeling is that Sloyd, offers some things that you won't find in arts classes. There is an intended rigor to it in the progression of models, from easy to difficult, and simple to complex. It demands the building of skill, offering a model for that process that can be applied to any human exercise requiring growth of skill and intelligence. For when children shape wood, in essence, they give shape to themselves.

3 comments:

JD said...

Doug, I am sorry that no one has replied to date. I agree with you. Sloyd is a process, not a product. It is a methodology that has a particular goal. Of course, we need arts in schools. Sloyd is a wonderful methodology that utilizes use of the hands for higher means. I don't have answers yet for arts vs. crafts, but I am trying to formulate a response to that.

At face value, I think folks tend to view arts and crafts as mutually exclusive. I'm not sure it is as simple as that, but I have to ponder this some more.

One issue might be production oriented. Craft might suggest production of many units, while art suggests production of fewer units. But, I don't think that it is as simple as that.

It might be that there is very little difference, if any, between arts and crafts. I just don't know. It is interesting, though, that we say "arts and crafts" in the same phrase. But, does it all really matter? Who determines what is an art and what is a craft?

Yikes, these are issues akin to those I am wrestling with daily in re: "what is musicianship." The questions are difficult, the answers no less so.

So, hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. We are headed to coastal North Carolina soon. It is a few degrees warmer there always.

I have a bird feeder project all laid out for my two grandchildren, plus a pair of pliers and a slotted/phillips screwdriver for each...to add to their tool bags that we started last year. We will have a grand time this Sunday/Monday gluing up the feeders and painting them. They are very excited, as I saw them last Saturday and laid the groundwork for a day in the garage with Grandpa. They are ready to go!!!

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Doug.

jd

Doug Stowe said...

Thanks for responding, JD. I have a painting that a friend gave us, that is quite colorful and in a decorator sense fits in a nice place, but it was done in a Chinese painting factory, where a number of "artists" worked on it, passing it along a line, each applying his or her color in the right place in a well trained brush stroke. If it is a painting done by hand it is art, right? It would even be considered by some to be "fine art." And to some of those, a hand carved spoon would never come close to such a designation. All in all, terms like arts and crafts have become meaningless. Someone might be trained as a classical musician, hit every note exactly as expected, and another might be all over the place, expressing things personal emotions that the classical musician would never accept. So what in the world is musicianship? Snoop Dog, but not Alica Keyes, or vice versa?

I guess in a sense, it doesn't matter. I read in a local paper, an editorial proclaiming the value of the arts, and chastising those who seek to rationalize the arts by finding value in what the arts do for other disciplines. "Art for arts sake," was its message. And I can't disagree with its intent, but I really don't like the notion of the arts as being isolated as something distinct and disconnected that needs to be pursued for its own sake.

tvi said...

HELLO,

I HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR BLOG FOR SOME TIME NOW, AND THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I FELT COMPELLED TO WRITE YOU.

I FEEL IT IS VERY IMPORTANT WORK YOU ARE DOING IN TEACHING CHILDREN TO WORK WITH THIER HANDS. I AM A HEAVY EQUIPMENT MECHANIC, AND THIS SEEMS TO BE A DYING ART.

THERE IS ART AND CRAFT IN EVERYTHING DONE WITH THE HANDS, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS THOUGHT OUT AHEAD OF TIME IN YOUR OWN MIND.THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF MAKING EDUCATIONAL RULES HAVE LONG AGO PAST UP THE USE OF HANDS FOR ADVANCED EDUCATION. THE PROBLEMS THAT THIS IS CAUSING IS SEEN IN JOBS LOST TO OTHER COUNTRIES.

I BELIEVE THAT MORE EDUCATION USING THE HANDS FIRST AND THEN THE MIND WILL EVENTUALLY LEAD US OUT OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THIS COUNTRY, IF ONLY SOME ONE WILL LISTEN.

TVI