Tuesday, April 26, 2011

strategic implementation of the hands...

In 2001, when we started the Wisdom of the Hand program at the Clear Spring School, part of our purpose was to demonstrate the continuing value of woodworking in schools. I know that some of my readers are here for the woodworking, but please have patience, for there are greater issues at stake. I quickly realized that the reason woodworking was no longer seen as relevant in American education was that educators no longer acknowledged the role of the hands in learning. The suggested role for the hands in American schools is for taking notes, turning pages and nothing more. Thus teachers' methods became tied to text books, and students hands became tied, their intellects stifled, and their characters diminished. In other words, the loss of woodworking in schools is a symptom of a far greater misunderstanding.

Education wasn't always so messed up.

The following is from John Amos Comenius (1592-1670), founder of modern pedagogy.
"Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them."
And this:
Artisans do not detain their apprentices with theories, but set them to do practical work at an early stage; thus they learn to forge by forging, to carve by carving, to paint by painting, and to dance by dancing. In schools, therefore, let the students learn to write by writing, to talk by talking, to sing by singing, and to reason by reasoning. In this way schools will become workshops humming with work, and students whose efforts prove successful will experience the truth of the proverb; "We give form to ourselves and to our materials at the same time."
If you are wondering how to fix American education, it boils down to a simple strategy,

The strategic implementation of the hands.

In the last few days Eureka Springs has had torrential rains. Some parts of the state have had deadly tornadoes. Some of our students have had difficulties getting to school due to road closings from high water and a few have had to evacuate their homes due to possible flooding. So naturally the students have had an interest in making boats. Each class, from elementary through high school has wanted to do the same thing. Can you see the psychic implications? Can you see how making boats might be a therapeutic endeavor, given the rains that never seem to let up? While Joah was carving on his boat, Hendrik remarked, "Joah's Ark." The sun is out now for a bit this afternoon, and more rain is expected tonight.

In the photo series at left, you can see how to drill for ball point pen inserts to fit a turning blank. First drill using a drill press and standard 1/8 in. bit. The shop made fixture holds the stock vertical and in the correct position so the hole is roughly centered. Next, use a longer bit to finish the hole. This one was 12 inches long but I ground off part to keep me from breaking it. In fact, this is the third one I bought before working out the bugs in the method. I broke two and the third is the charm. To keep from breaking the bit, it has to go in and out smoothly and in small increments so that chips can be cleared frequently. I also use wax on the tip to lubricate the bit and prevent it from overheating.

Some of my readers may remember the flood of 2008 when our Beaver Bridge was under water for over a month and there were questions about whether or not it might be permanently damaged. We have the same worries again this year due to the heavy rains and flooding of Table Rock Lake as you can see in the photo below.

The skills you develop in your own hands may become important to you sooner than you expect.

Make, fix and create.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An ark is an understandable project for your students. We've had high winds and enough rain for flood warnings, but so far have missed storms like yours.

Mario