Wednesday, October 26, 2011

creative curiosity

Today I had the first, second and third grade students in the CSS woodshop finishing their abacuses and preparing for their harvest party. This year, one of the events they will manage will be a woodworking booth where they can instruct other students in making tops. So we have lots of parts to prepare. And I have lots of work to do as well.

I will miss the harvest party this year, as I will be in Syracuse, New York to teach box making with the Sawdust and Woodchips Woodworking Club. I am getting things ready to leave on Friday.

So much is learned in our culture with so little consequence. We go online and can explore for hours, having little or no effect on what we actually do. We can be chained to our devices, learn lots that is useless to us and be left unchanged. Idle curiosity seems to be the name of the age. But with real tools and real materials through which we might respond to what we have learned, we have unprecedented opportunity to be creative. Take away the real tools, however, and we are just idly entertained, regardless the level of our curiosity.

My 7th, 8th and 9th grade students resumed cutting dovetails yesterday after a short break. The use of tools also requires attention to their own bodies, and real wood does not allow you to just start over again as one would in the manipulation of digital devices. The iPad doesn't care if you are sitting at a desk or standing on your head, and so your own physical nature is not a consideration in your lessons. But to saw along a straight line involves senses that our children do not commonly exercise. Without the development of these senses, our children are limited in power, just as the blind may not see, or as the deaf may not hear.

On the subject of idle curiosity, you might enjoy reading about Thorstein Veblen, American economist and sociologist. Veblen is also interesting reading if you are at all concerned about malfeasance on Wall Street and the growing gap between rich and poor.

Make, fix and create...

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