Wednesday, September 12, 2012


School subjects are artificial constructs. The term "curriculum integration", means that traditional subject walls are pushed aside to let in a little light and enthusiasm. It is acknowledged (at least by some) that subjects themselves are isolating constructs that destroy relevance, and in an earlier time of manual arts the process of integration was called "correlation." This was correlated to that, and the terms "correlation" and "integration" have essentially the same meaning from the standpoint of education. Math is related to physics, both are related to history, and of course wood shop can be used to touch upon and reinforce learning in all subjects. I thought that was my idea, but I learned from my own study of the history of manual arts that there is truly nothing completely new under the sun. And so what I do in the Clear Spring wood shop is an extension of an earlier movement in education... Make things relevant and thus more easily learned by putting them to actual use.

Wood shops are perfect for that.
working together is part of the fun of wood shop
finished snakes...
Today the first, second and third grade students made their study of local wildlife more relevant by finishing their snakes, and the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students worked on their time line of history recorded in the rings of our library poplar tree and turned the 112 year old pine stump into a low dining table for their classroom.

The following is from a paper by Sir Michael E. Sadler on "Handwork in History Education" and explains what is meant by correlation between handicraft and the other subjects of the curriculum. Sadler believed that,
"for all-round development of the brain, there should be in elementary and secondary education much more training of the hand, and of the power of expression through the hand, than is customary in the too bookish tradition which has come down to us from classical humanism." "Such a subject as history is too apt to pass without challenge into the circle of those subjects which are taught out of books and from a literary point of view. We have to claim it as falling into the scientific division of the course not less than into that of the humanities. And there is need in the teaching of it for the use of the hand and of the constructive powers. From this point of view, handwork in the elementary school is not so much a subject by itself as a form of expression ancillary to several branches of the curriculum, namely, elementary science, geometry, geography, and history. I suppose that under handwork in its broadest sense, one would include the free imaginative drawing, both with brush and pencil, which is a valuable accompaniment of the teaching of history to young children. Similarly, the preparation of time charts by the children themselves, in order to train the sense of time relationships, would come under the widest definition of handwork in history teaching, as would also the preparation by the children of history notebooks, in which they place their own drawings or other pictures illustrating the period about which they are learning. It is desirable that such notebooks should give scope to the originality of the children, but that they should come under occasional supervision."
There are some craftsmen that worry about the loss of specific traditions. For instance woodworkers are concerned about the loss of woodworking, metal smiths are concerned about the loss of their time honored skills and traditions. But the failure to engage the hands in learning is about a deeper subject... leading ultimately to the loss of our essential human culture of which woodworking and all crafts are important parts.

They say you can't push a rope. But what can one do to enable pushing a string through a small hole, only barely lager than the string itself? Apply glue, twist the end tight and then let the glue dry.

Make, fix and create...

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