Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Boston Family Boat Building...

Today every flat surface in my office and finish room is covered with boxes drying from their final application of Danish oil. It is good that these 300 boxes have the opportunity to fully dry before packing for delivery. Each box, taken on its own could be considered a work of art, so this has been a satisfying project. I'm relieved to be on schedule for completion. I've made thousands of boxes but never so many at one time.

Abigail Norman from the Eliot School in Boston visited the open house for Boston Family Boat Building and her reports is as follows:
On Saturday, I attended an Open House at Boston Family Boat Building's new workshop on Fan Pier. It was a warm day, and as I approached a large sloop sailed past, slicing through wind and water, close to shore. I imagined myself on board and experienced a rush of liberation.
It took BFBB's founder, John Rowse, five years to convince a big waterfront developer to give him free space. The temporary building, good for this year, contains two spacious workrooms with plate glass windows overlooking the harbor. John told me that the students often ask to eat their lunch on the sea wall.
BFBB works with fifth graders from Haley Elementary School. The students go sailing in the fall, then spend the winter in small groups building dinghies, which they donate to the Courageous Sailing program on Jamaica Pond. In spring, they conduct oral history interviews with African Americans in the maritime trades. 
John and his volunteers take selected students on a sailing trip in Maine, and pay close attention to individual kids. On Saturday, a 7th grader was hanging around the workshop with his mom. He told me he wants to be an engineer when he grows up. BFBB helped him go on, after fifth grade, to build a bike with Bikes Not Bombs and find a place at Match Charter School.
It would be wonderful to find ways, over time, to create pathways for students to take what they gain from BFBB and our programs at the Eliot School, and carry them forward in both mastery and enjoyment throughout their middle school years, laying a groundswell for expansive lives as adults. I left BFBB's new space feeling uplifted and inspired. I encourage you to visit next time you are in Boston.
The Boston Family Boat Building model is a thing other communities can emulate, even those without water. For example, take what is best in your community. In assessment of community resources, ask, "What are the things unique about us, and answer the question, how can we use what we are to make our education of our students interesting and unique?" The highest standards of education should not be a thing measured on standardized tests, but rather be the answer to this question... "How do we take the best of who we are as a community and apply it directly to the education of our kids?" The highest standards for education are not those set by the federal or state governments but are achieved when unique communities are engaged in the making of unique schools, diverse, artistic, creative, calling forth the best from our kids, teachers and ourselves.

In the CSS woodshop today, the first, second and third grade students made boxes for tops. The project was challenging. We will finish it next week. The 7th, 8th and 9th grade students supplemented their study of the trees and forests with a study of woods, making a collection of various species of Arkansas hardwoods.

Here in Eureka Springs, we have no ocean at hand, but we do have wealth in the arts and natural forest resources that call the hands to make useful beauty from wood.

Make, fix and create...

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