Friday, September 10, 2010

woodturning at ESSA

Today my classroom at Clear Spring School is being used by the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for a class in bowlturning taught by Greg Thomas. The class focuses primarily on one tool, the bowl gouge. Getting one sharpened at the right bevel is crucial to the student's success, so naturally the class began with sharpening, using a Wolverine jig mounted at the base of the grinder.

The students are turning Bradford Pear, a smooth cutting wood, that helps them to focus on refining their technique.

I received a small booklet in the mail today from Teachers College, that had been withdrawn from circulation and passed along. The title is The Trade and Training of the Carpenter and Joiner, published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1933. You really can't blame libraries for discarding books that are seldom read. This one, according to the date due card at back had not been checked out since 1943. But for those of us who celebrate the wisdom of our hands, to hold such things is a connection with things that we had best not forget. This slender volume is also a connection with people from the past, the unnamed authors, the people about whom the book was written and even that last person to check it out in 1943, a much earlier time in which our nation was also at war.

The booklet is fragile. The cover is broken loose. My favorite part is the university ID (Teachers College Library CU) spelled out in tiny stamped holes, both on the cover and on the title page inside.

My readers might enjoy this pdf article by Leon Botstein which had been published a few years ago in the New York Times, in response to the shootings at Columbine,Let Teenagers Try Adulthood. In his examination of schooling, Botstein suggests:
Secondary education must be rethought. Elementary school should begin at age 4 or 5 and end with the sixth grade. We should entirely abandon the concept of the middle school and junior high school. Beginning with the seventh grade, there should be four years of secondary education that we may call high school. Young people should graduate at 16 rather than 18. They could then enter the real world, the world of work or national service, in which they would take a place of responsibility alongside older adults in mixed company. They could stay at home and attend junior college, or they could go away to college.

For all the faults of college, at least the adults who dominate the world of colleges, the faculty, were selected precisely because they were exceptional and different, not because they were popular. Despite the often cavalier attitude toward teaching in college, at least physicists know their physics, mathematicians know and love their mathematics, and music is taught by musicians, not by graduates of education schools, where the disciplines are subordinated to the study of classroom management.

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