Wednesday, February 23, 2011

woodworking scholars

If you read yesterday's post quoting Otto Salomon, you may have noticed that he referred to students in sloyd as "scholars." As a part of general education, woodworking Sloyd was understood to be a significant contributory element to the growth and development of each and every child, and you can see how referring to students as "scholars," a term normally associated with academic learning would play a role in our understanding of wood shop. It would also delineate our expectations for what was to arise from it. This lesson was learned and taken to heart by some, and ignored by others who saw woodworking as being only of economic value, rather than a tool in the overall development of each child. This morning, as we watch continued democratic revolution in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and other African and Middle Eastern Nations, we need to also consider democracy in our own country. I will refer my readers to an earlier post concerning democracy and wood shop, containing comments by Charles B. Gilbert at the Eastern Manual Training Association meeting of 1905. A Passioned Plea. Mr. Charles B. Gilbert was one of those who had taken the lessons of Sloyd to heart. He was the Superintendent of Schools for Rochester, NY, and knew first hand, the value of woodworking education to all students.
"Democracy is not a form of government; it is a state of mind. It consists of a community of democratic people. The business of the schools is to train democratic people; and every teacher in every line of work should endeavor to bring up the boys and the girls to the feeling that they must be democratic--that they stand equal in opportunity and in obligation with all other boys and girls who are growing up."
In other words, when you use the schools to deliberately divide the students into two classes, "scholars" and trades, one destined to college and the other not, you have done irreparable harm, not only to the students but to society and the democratic principles we claim to hold dear.

If you want to do something about the Wisdom of the Hands, and restore our own society to democratic sensibility, please contact your own superintendent of schools and tell him (or her) she's been missing something very important. Perhaps Charles B. Gilbert could explain a few things to him/her.

The photos above show planes I reviewed today for Fine Woodworking and progress on a rustic chair made with old chair parts. The rustic chair will be given to a "chairity" auction to benefit the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix and create.

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