Tuesday, September 04, 2012

purpose of wood shop clearly stated...

The following is from Sir John Lubbock, 1886:
The introduction of manual work into our schools is important, not merely from the advantage which would result to health, not merely from the training of the hand as an instrument, but also from its effect on the mind itself.

There have been two very different points of view from which manual instruction has been recommended. The first looks at the problem from a especially economic point of view. The school is arranged so as to elicit the special aptitudes of the pupils; to prepare and develop the children as quickly and completely as possible for some definite trade or handicraft, so as to, if possible, assure them, when leaving school, the material requisite for existence. In this way it is maintained that the wealth and comfort of the nation can be best promoted.

The second theory regards the manual instruction as a form of education; the object is to give the hand, not so much a special as a general aptitude, suitable to the varied circumstances of practical life, and calculated to develop a healthy love of labor, to exercise the faculties of attention, perception, and intuition. The one treats the school as subordinate to the workshop, and the other takes the workshop and makes it a part of the school. The one seeks to make a workman, the other to train up a man.
To what Lubbock has mentioned, I will add the expression of educational enthusiasm. If you want kids to take a greater interest in their schooling, give them something creative to do with their hands.

We are having a late summer heat wave in Arkansas with temperatures approaching 100 degrees. Cities seem to be the places with the most rapidly rising temperatures and some cities have discovered that trees may be the best thing to do about it. Trees and gardens, as this article from NPR suggests: As Temps Rise, Cities Combat 'Heat Island' Effect by RICHARD HARRIS

Make, fix and create.


  1. I really like this quote and the distinction the he draws between the two ways of looking at promoting handiwork. For those of us who are amateurs, woodworking becomes an outlet for our need for creative expression in work which is lacking from most so called "knowledge based" vocations. And it is important that this creative expression is with real objects that require our hands and minds together. Sitting at a computer drawing something in CAD is not the same as fashioning a real object with ones hands using materials grounded in the real world. I also agree with the assertion that this real labor challenges and improves the intellect itself. We are whole people, not just vessels holding brains. The physical affects the mental, and vice versa. Finally, his point about handiwork promoting a general ability to solve problems in all areas of life is very important, particularly in our day when specialization is so heavily promoted, both educationally and vocationally. Fixing and making things teaches general principles of solving problems, working within constraints, etc. that can't be found in books.

  2. Jeff, thanks for reading and for your comment
    The distinction between economic and "formative" values resulting from hand work was a common subject in that era.

    Now folks are questioning the developmental (formative) value of Algebra. It's the same kind of argument. Except that most kids really love woodshop.

  3. I stumbled upon your great site whilst I was attempting to learn how to upload a movie image of my most recent piano practice (creating and learning with my hands!)

    i am the great-granddaughter of Sir John Lubbock, whom you referenced in your blog ... nice quote.

    Anyway, just wanted to say how much I liked your insights. I'm married to a former teacher and he has always had a hankering to follow his grandfather, who was a talented Scottish woodworker and we still eat off the dining table he carved and admire the craftsmanship of the old-fashioned dresser he created!

  4. Victoria, you and your husband are fortunate to have such fine heritage, and expressions of craftsmanship from an earlier time.

    Thanks for reading,