Thursday, March 15, 2012

finding balance...

Khan Academy is putting excellent lessons into the hands of kids, free of charge, and allowing teacher-mentors to monitor acquisition of the same kinds of knowledge that schools have become obsessed about. What are missing in that formula are the students' interest, confidence and ability to do anything with the acquired knowledge, along with a focus on steady advancement of skill. These require mentors, assessment of qualities of aesthetics and design beyond those that can easily fit a digital matrix.

Just think of the difference between wissenschaft and kenntnis... It is one thing to learn about something by reading in a book, listening to a lecture, or watching a video and it is another matter entirely to learn from one's own mistakes and experience (kenntnis). The difference is one of depth. There is an old saying, "lose it or use it," and we each know from our own experience that those things lightly learned are quickly forgotten. We also each know from experience that those things deeply learned directly through hands-on experience will never be forgotten.

As wonderful as the new technologies are, children need the opportunity to do with what they know in order to have a catalogue of problem solving experiences available in order to grow up to be amongst those who retain learning and discover themselves fully as lifelong learners.

Most think the digital revolution will be enough to transform American education. It will not.

Today I've been cleaning at school and in my home shop. In addition, I've lowered a chiro-practic table I made for a doctor friend 28 years ago. As you can see it is all made with wedged tenons. It squeaks a bit as the wedged tenons rub in their mortises, but has been well cared for while serving thousands of patients over the years.

I've cut 1 1/2 inches from its overall height to make it more comfortable for the doctor to use. It will get a fresh coat of Danish oil before being returned to regular use. If you want something to last, choose joinery techniques that have served through the ages. This is all made with wedged tenon joints, as some of my readers may recognize from some of my more recent projects.

Make, fix and create...



  1. At face value the Khan Academy is just another way to deliver lectures, but what is really happening is much larger. In their trial at the Los Altos schools, using the Khan Academy as homework has given the teachers time in class to make the subjects real for the students. The Khan Academy model is also unique in that it does not leave learners behind. When you practice the exercises you don't 'pass' until you can get 10 in a row correct. Gone are the days when you take a test and you get a grade, 'C' students shouldn't just pass on to the next thing. They are missing 30% of what they needed to learn. While I know this is not as powerful as doing things with your hands, I truly believe that the Khan Academy is a step in the right direction.

    Please don't take my word for it, at the very least watch Salmon Khan's TED talk

  2. That is a neat corner joint. Any more info about how you did it.


  3. Dave, that was 29 years ago, but as I recall, I marked and drilled mortises, chiseled them square as was standard practice. The top tenons on the sides pass through the tenons that connect the legs to the ends.