Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC seems to be the direction of upper level college education, and wise educators seem to have arrived at the conclusion that lecture based learning, even at the college level is nearly a waste of time. In any case, what self-respecting professor would want to stand talking at the head of the class while his students surreptitiously check their facebook accounts? Believe it or not, that's the direction things have been going... parents investing billions as their children keep passively entertained.

Students learn by doing, and "flipping classrooms" is becoming more common. In a flipped classroom students spend school time doing things that utilize outside the classroom learning. That means collaborating with others on projects, making things and doing real research that demonstrate learning, etc. Either classrooms flip, making education meaningful and relevant, or students will at some point simply forget standard universities and forgo the associated expense, and opt for the free learning presented by MOOC if they in some way find it relevant to them.

Free online classes present a challenge for teachers. MOOC redefines teacher's role in education. The woodshop presents a model. I spend half my time checking that the students hands are safe and the other half putting tools in students hands, allowing them the opportunity to learn from their own actions in the real world. If you are looking for an example of courses you can take, try Coursera

Today in the CSS wood shop, first, second and third grade students made wooden toys, and the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students turned legs on the lathe and made and painted toy cars.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Doug-

    Two years ago I used your program as a model to help to develop an alternative science program for our town that incorporates woodworking and gardening. One of the highlights came yesterday when my entire 8th grade science class begged to spend their after school hours working on their "nature boxes." I have never had an entire class feel so strongly about coming after school for classwork.

    I owe my greatest of thanks to the inventors of the plow, fillister, rabbet and smoothing planes. These are just a few of the tools that I am using these days in my efforts as a public school teacher.

    I am not afraid of the use of cell phones in class. I have woodworking tools.

    Thanks again,

    Chris Sagnella

  2. Chris, I am pleased to hear of your program's success. Our high school students at CSS when asked about the progress of their school year recounted the things they had DONE, not the things that they had learned, though that too is important.

    To capture a child's interest in learning is the first objective. I was reading last night of an early physics professor who used woodworking to convey an understanding of physics. In the 1880s. I guess when it comes to woodworking,and education, we are on the cutting edge.