Wednesday, August 18, 2010

veneering panels

Today, I continue putting lacewood and elm veneers on Baltic birch panels for making small cabinets, and am also in the midst of planning for this coming year of woodworking at Clear Spring School.

The September/October issue of Wooden Boat Magazine arrived this morning. As you all know, Wooden Boat and the community that has grown up around it are the foremost proponents of hands on learning in America. If schools could understand the way working with the hands affects all learners, we would have a revolution in American education.

In an article about making and rowing Champlain Longboats in Vermont, three captions on page 64-65 tell a part of the story:

Bending woods and shaping minds--large-scale boatbuilding offers countless opportunities for critically important teamwork.

Some boatbuilding tasks require individual students to evaluate situations and to make subjective judgments: Is the bevel fair and ready for the next plank?

Boatbuilding teaches life lessons, including a tolerance for tedium: The Champlain gigs have 60 frames each, and each of those frames has 30 rivets.

Now, when you ask corporate executives in the US what they want from the coming labor market, they ask for employees who work well together in teams. They want problem-solvers, capable of well reasoned judgments. And they want employees who demonstrate dedication to completion of important tasks. But when it comes to attempting to influence public policy on education, what do they demand? Testing, testing and more testing. What idiots. And while some of us hoped that the Obama administration would be an opportunity for change, it seems the same corporate lobbyists are in control pushing for same old stuff. Disgusting, disappointing, but true.

In the photo above, I am doing a very simple thing, routing the edges of recently veneered panels. You don't have to be making something as complicated as a wooden boat to benefit from the wisdom of your hands.

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