Tuesday, August 28, 2012

the urgency of doing...

"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do." — Leonardo da Vinci
An education that leaves the hands still may be good enough for thumb twiddlers and politicos, but real learning requires more than complaisant 2nd-hand wissenschaft knowledge from books, lectures and work sheets. Understanding science, math, social studies, requires kentniss, being deeply engaged in a life of making choices to be tested in one's own hands. At one time in American education this basic principle was widely shared. We learn best, most thoroughly and to greatest lasting effect when we learn hands-on. When we keep children's hands from exploring on their own we fail to engage their interests, emotions and intellects, and fail too, in the development of their character and stature within the human race.

Some days may be wasted as we learn by doing, but learning by doing is never a waste. It builds an inventory of problem solving techniques that can lead to new things. Ask Edison.

Yesterday I attempted to begin work on computer carts for the school to house computers for grades 7-12. After a day's work, and a night tossing in my sleep, I am shifting to plan B, a less creative way of construction that offers greater chance of success. In any case, without the day of twiddling unsuccessfully, and while watching even greater problems mount, I would not have arrived at this moment of greater clarity.

In my own wood shop, I have been making a simple dome-lidded box from a combination of maple species, hard and soft. The body of the box was made using a Gifkins Jig to cut the dovetails on the router table. The lid consists of a floating panel in a mitered frame secured at the corners with splines.

The great thing about making boxes is that there are no limits to the creative opportunities they offer. And while some may look at what they see in the photo above  (and below) as a box, I see it as the simple unfolding of even more. Finished box shown below.  Isn't that maple pretty?

Make, fix and create...

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