In the shop, things are always just a bit better. I'm preparing stock for my class on making small cabinets and will offer my students a choice of walnut, cherry or white oak. It is so satisfying taking raw lumber and processing it into well surfaced parts.
I was asked for a quote about woodworking education to be used on the North Bennet St. School website, and so what I offered (subject to editing) is as follows:
"Woodworking in schools provides a cutting edge for the engagement of the mind in learning. Students who may be disinterested in academic learning are more deeply engaged in schooling when they get the opportunity to find success working with their hands.
On the other hand, students who are already successful in formal education acquire qualities of character in wood shop that make them better citizens, and more appreciative of the contributions made by others.
Regardless of a student's educational objectives, whether to enter college, or trade school, those things that are learned hands-on are learned more deeply and to greatest lasting effect."
"This is a very efficient industry and so the students got to hear about and see the amount of the calculations and precision that is required to achieve a quality outcome. We worked to the millimetre and at times to the half millimetre.Next his students will begin making small cabinets of their own design, and having had a taste of real world experience will help them to know the importance of close tolerances and lead to greater success.
I learnt a lot from the experience and hope to build more of this into what I teach in the future."
While we remember that ALL students benefit from hands-on learning like that a wood shop can provide, we must not forget the economic benefits of wood shop in preparing students for actual employment in the careful use of their minds, eyes and hands. Paul Ruhlman at Buckingham, Browne and Nichols School in Cambridge notes that a number of his woodworking students have become orthopedic surgeons... a trade even the most successful and dubious parent could be proud of.
I had this interesting experience retrieving data from a recalcitrant hard drive. I could no longer get my computer to recognize a 160 gig. external hard drive upon which all my photos were stored, so learned from my internet research that literally freezing (below zero) a freezing hard drive might allow its data to be successfully retrieved. I put the hard drive sealed in a zip lock bag in the freezer for 5 hours and then connected it wrapped in bubble wrap and sealed in zip lock for insulation while it downloaded to another external drive. Who would have thought such a thing might work? There is no reasonable explanation, but it does work. While it took over an hour I've successfully transferred my files to a new storage device. Yippee. If you have a challenging hard drive, freezing it may be the first thing you will want to try.
Make, fix and create...