Statistics show... that of the five or six hundred hundred convicts who had been admitted during the year preceeding... nearly every one had attended public schools. This clearly demonstrates the fact that crime requires a more heroic remedy than the mere teaching of principles, theories and facts. These same statistics show that of this large number of criminals, only five or six were mechanics. Surely this information is of great public concern. It proves that those who understand the use of tools and machines have no need to resort to ways that are dark.There was at that time a clear sense of correlation between learning to do real, honest making of beautiful and useful things and the development of character of individuals upon which successful communities are based.
Yesterday at Gannon and Benjamin, I watched workers in the boat yard. There were none standing around idly as lifting was required. Each attempted to anticipate how they might best help as they were guiding a pea pod safely down from the loft. There are ways that craftsmanship builds bonds of relationship between members of society just as they do within a small boat yard. Each craftsman looks to the other for support. Modern education is not very well aimed toward that.
Will Price, architect and founder of Rose Valley community told of his experience in his address to the same meeting of manual arts teachers, 1904:
A couple of years ago some of us tried to start some little shops at Rose Valley. I went to one of the oldest and best cabinet makers in the city of Philadelphia and asked him if he could get me two or three good, all-round cabinet makers. He said: "Well, I think I could get you two." That is, only two in a city of over a million people. I said, "I want young men." "Oh!" he exclaimed, "these men are so old they will probably die before you get them out there." He added, "You cannot find a young cabinet maker because there is no use for him, I can get you a good dowel sticker, or a good man on the lathe, or mortise machine, but there is no such thing as a cabinet maker in the cabinet making shop. " ... That is the situation in one of the most simple, direct and important of the crafts left to us. I would have to go to Norway or somewhere else to get men.With a return of craftsmanship in American schools a great deal can be fixed. But this revolution in education should not only be for the children of the poor. The need for caring craftsmanship exists at all levels of community life.
Today I am still relaxing much more than is useful or normal for me as I take my break between my class in Maine and my activities in Boston. The 4th of July weekend is the craziest of times to be at Cape Cod. The video TED Talk embedded above is of Dale Dougherty whom I met at the Maker Faire the summer before last in Dearborn. Unfortunately making things is only part of the picture. It must be accompanied by the questions, "What shall I make?, What are its values? Who will it serve? Is it made with an eye toward beauty and as an expression of caring craftsmanship?" But yes, the culture of making needs to start somewhere and perhaps the first thing is to understand that making is of essence to our humanity.
Make, fix and create...