Tuesday, May 24, 2011

sticks, tools and kids

This was the last class of the school year for my 7th and 8th grade students, and they can be a challenging bunch of kids, especially when the weather has been haywire, and they are counting their days until summer break. Their hands want to be engaged in everything. Sticks are of particular interest, as they denote power. If it is a movable object, it gets fiddled with, clunked, turned into a disruption, and the opportunity to ask children to develop self-discipline and self awareness is ever-present in the wood shop. Seventh and 8th grade students like to make threatening gestures toward each other, and at times I have to corral them and correct their behavior to keep the wood shop a welcoming, learning environment. Frankly, I can understand why some teachers would prefer an object free lesson plan in a sterile classroom, devoid of the kinds of objects that lay claim to children's attentions. It is easier, and less demanding of self-discipline. The clear need to reinforce self-discipline is why most shop teachers take on a curmudgeonly demeanor. But are we supposed to make schools easy or hard? How about difficult and challenging? ... Even when that means that children must develop self awareness and consciousness toward others, taking charge of their own impulses...

Today, I was able to explain to the kids why lessons on learning styles, and making things in the wood shop are closely related... that when they are making something, its value is not in the object made but in the skills and character they develop in the making. We also made cards to send to Beth Ireland as a small token of thanks for spending her time with us making whistles in the wood shop. Some kids got the creative spirit, and some did not. After one more day of classes, I spend time getting the wood shop ready for this summer's classes with the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Kids are shown above and cards below.

Make, fix and create.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting and absorbing way top engage teenagers. Once they get into working with sticks they would not remember the world.
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