Wednesday, April 27, 2011

forgive me as I repeat myself...

Nothing new here. As a craftsman, I repeat myself over and over in the same motions, and by paying attention, I learn new, small, simple things which demand further practice, and refinement, and so from watching closely, you might see incremental growth. Over the course of a maker's life, you might see more dramatic effect.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, I've been asked to help the students prepare for their camping trip. They will need new flag poles for their patrol groups, as the ones they have used in past years have been lost. It is a simple thing.

In the blog, I am trying to collect my thoughts for an essay which I hope to submit as an Op Ed piece to the New York Times. Why the heck not? Others do it on subjects far less important to our children's futures.

In my own woodshop, I'm getting ready to make a small cherry cabinet to serve as a prop for illustrating an article on making bridle joint glass doors.

By watching closely you might notice that my mission over the years from when we first started the Wisdom of the Hands program at Clear Spring School gradually changed. At first the mission was to prove the value of woodworking education, and then as I became much more deeply immersed in educational sloyd and pedagogical history the mission became more fully that of advocacy for hands-on learning, for it is that which proves the value of woodworking education, the arts, music, dance, internship, basketball, soccer, and all those experiential activities that we no longer allow time for in American education.
In Schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged. --Wisdom of the Hands blog post of October 16, 2006
"I write this in the belief that, for all-round development of the brain, there should be in elementary and secondary education much more training of the hand, and of the power of expression through the hand, than is customary in the too bookish tradition which has come down to us from classical humanism. Such a subject as history is too apt to pass without challenge into the circle of those subjects which are taught out of books and from a literary point of view. We have to claim it as falling into the scientific division of the course not less than into that of the humanities. And there is need in the teaching of it for the use of the hand and of the constructive powers. From this point of view, handwork in the elementary school is not such a subject by itself as a form of expression ancillary to several branches of the curriculum, namely elementary science, geometry, geography, and history." --Sir Michael E. Sadler from Educational Handwork (1906)
And so, things are very simple here. Not much happening. Forgive me as I repeat myself. Since schools seemingly have the subjugation of intellect to boredom as their primary objective, you must take matters into your own hands. Make, fix and create.


  1. Best of luck with the Op-Ed piece!

  2. Doug-

    I use much of what you write to help me grow as a teacher. I figure instead of getting my sixth year (in something I am not interested in) let me take advantage of this blog and all of its resources. And it helps- it has been a worthwhile adventure thus far. I gain from your perspective. The last article you were involved with helped me to promote my own woodworking program in my district. Best of luck broadcasting more of the seeds that you are planting.


  3. Anonymous4:31 AM

    Nothing wrong with a little repetition when the point is worth making.