Thursday, September 15, 2011

dovetails and hand skills...

“As the development of the motor centers in the brain hinges, in a great degree upon the movements and exercises of youth, it will be readily understood how important is the nature of the part played by the early exercise of the hand. There can be no doubt that the most active epoch in the development of these motor centers is from the fourth to fifteenth year, after which they become comparatively fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been left altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency thereafter.”--James Crichton Browne
Today my high school students practiced cutting dovetails. You can see from the photo at left that they need a great deal of practice before I turn them loose on finer woods. Shop Teacher Bob sent a link to a fantastic article, Why your teenager can’t use a hammer: Complaints about a generation of the mechanically challenged. The article points out that our kids are not only becoming all thumbs due to the loss of school woodshops, they are becoming intellectually clueless.

Practice with tools not only shapes the hand for the expression of skill, it shapes the mind for intelligent action at the very same time. My students all want to make a dovetailed box. Some feel that they may not be up to the task.  Knowing and knowing how to do are two distinct levels of knowledge, one far more potent than the other. One is that of the idle consumer and the other is the domain of maker and of the creator.An dif we had our choice, all but the most lazy would choose the latter.

Note the intense concentration in the photo below... a thing we might never see in normal classes. It is through such application of will that self is defined.
Make, fix and create...

As you can see in the photo at left, I have been routing the edges and sanding the outsides of my very small inlaid boxes.

No comments:

Post a Comment