Thursday, September 06, 2012

general school effect...

at work on a  pine stump with hand planes

T. W. Berry in his book *The Pedagogy of Educational Handcraft, 1912 wrote about the general school effect of manual work.
Children who are dull at literary work are very generally bright when engaged in manual work, and this interest in what is done, stimulated by its attendant success, is reflected in all the School work. The accuracy and neatness of execution and artistic embellishment demanded in Handicraft is imitated in School work generally, so that the moral effect is very great. The variety of work, both as regards materials and nature of models, tends to make a pupil adaptable to varying circumstances, but always aiming at a high artist finish to a useful article.

Not only is the direct influence of manual instruction great but the indirect is even greater. The correlation of studies widens the interest, inculcates the spirit of co-operation and interrelationship, and enables the pupil to express his thoughts not in words only but in models, which necessarily demand precision, thus developing a most useful habit.
I could witness that sense of enthusiastic interest yesterday as my 7th, 8th and 9th grade students worked with hand planes attempting to make a smooth surface on a pine stump from the Eureka Springs Cemetery.

making tiny garbage cans grades 4-6
Today our Clear Spring School upper elementary students (grades 4, 5 and 6) will made tiny desktop trashcans (a project they suggested related to their own efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle). The high school students began work on computer carts to be used to keep their computers charged and ready for work. They also found planing wood to be fun and irresistible.

I am beginning work on two articles scheduled for Fine Woodworking, one on making wooden hinges for boxes, and the other on the installation of knife hinges for small cabinets. These are to be done ASAP, as one is already scheduled for an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Planing wood is too much fun...
*The Pedagogy of Educational Handicraft by T.W. Berry is one of the books that came into my possession after being discarded by Bryson Library at Teachers College in New York City. It was passed along to me by a concerned librarian. The great irony of course is that Teachers College was originally conceived and founded to meet the the then growing need to teach teachers to teach Educational Handcrafts to our nation's kids. Their first building on their current campus was the Macy Manual Arts Building which was at one time filled with benches and machine tools. Sadly, those days are no more.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Working with those kids has to be so much fun. And aren't librarians wonderful? Well, you knew this already. It would offend a librarian terribly to see a good book being tossed out.


  2. Mario,
    Yes, I do know how wonderful librarians are. A good one goes to great lengths to see that books make their right connections.