Monday, March 19, 2012

open shades...

A friend of mine has returned to college as an adult (50+) and described the experience compared to her earlier one as being "having the shades up." When you are fed materials and information without life experience to put things in context you see and absorb only a small proportion of what is offered. What is so hard for educators to understand about that?

Today I am refinishing a Chiropractic table I'd made for a friend almost 30 years ago. I can see that in some ways my shades were open and in some closed, and it is good to be in the company of something made so long ago as a way of touching base with my own growth as a craftsman, my own early aspiring self. One point I made in the making of the table was the use of traditional joinery (wedged mortise and tenon joints) like what one would find in 100+ year old furniture in a museum. It might be no surprise to some that it worked. The joints are sound. I've had to scrape away a bit of chewing gum stuck on the underside, but the finish requires very little attention. That speaks to the care it has received over the years.

One thing I do notice is that my earlier self was not as attentive to some of the finer marks of finish that I would now attend to. There are the small ripples formed by the jointer on the top edges of some of the rails. I would do better than that now.

We think of schools as being the foundation for life, but in reality, schools are better when they find their own foundation in life. Children need to do real things that raise the shades and open their eyes to the full depth of learning that is offered both in and out of formal schooling.

Make, fix and create...


  1. The self confidence that comes from learning to work with tools will last a lifetime and make problem solving much less of a strain because the brain has learned about the physical world and step by step processes...if this, then that.

    As a child the quality of patience to work on solutions one step at a time is an essential life skill to learn. Where better to learn that skill than in a workshop or art class where one has to use tools? Do people even realize patience can be learned?

    How many times have we all heard someone say...I don't have the patience to do that? It is a shame they never learned it because it is such a huge roadblock to a creative life. Personal relationships also suffer from lack of it and anger runs rampant when there is no depth of patience to draw from.