Monday, February 04, 2013

deriving our diverse notions...

Rock hound tools
Today in the CSS wood shop, 4th, 5th and 6th grade students will made tools for their study of geology. We made small mallets and chisels for excavating minerals and fossils on various field trips around the area. The chisels required each student to turn the handle on the lathe (with very close supervision). Ozric standing at the lathe said, "This feels better than anything I've done in my whole life." Earlier they made mineral collection boxes in wood shop, and so now they will begin forming their own personal collections. Students could not resist going out back to find rocks and test their tools.

The CSS high school students worked on their box guitars. One is beginning to install frets, and they are all interested in beginning to apply Danish oil finish. I am grateful to teach in a school where teachers are allowed to plan their own activities, and thus offer unique experiences to each child.

Page 70 of the April 2013 issue of Fine Woodworking No. 232 has my article on installation of knife hinges. The advance copies came in this morning's mail, so subscribers will get their copies soon and it will be on the newsstands nationally by the beginning of next week.

Hans Thorbjörnsson sent the following in response to my inquiry as to the influence of Petalozzi on Otto Salomon's system of exercises. Salomon quoted from Pestalozzi in an archaic form of Swedish, which Hans graciously translated into more modern English:
“These skills which every man needs to carry out what his/her education and creativity demand, are not given to him/her without effort, just as little as the understanding and knowledge he/she must possess. The building of mental powers presupposes a psychologically arranged method, and like that the creation of those powers behind the skills (mentioned above) presupposes an ABC of art. Through these general rules of art the children are guided in a sequence of exercises, arranged from the simplest (easiest) to the most complex, and in that way day by day building skills, which they need. This ABC is hard (difficult) to find. But if you search it in a serious mood, you will be able to find it, and that would be a great gift to the whole humanity. It must come (emanate) from the simplest manifestations of physical powers, which contains the basic elements for even the most complex human skills. To strike, to bear, to throw, to draw, to twist, to pull etc are the most important manifestations of our physical powers. They differ from each other but still they together and each for itself contains the foundations of all the skills mankind needs. Therefore it is obvious that this ABC of abilities must result in gradual exercises of these skills. This ABC of bodily exercises must then of course  be united and brought into agreement with the training of our senses, in the same way as all the mechanical exercises with morphology/accidence and voice- and speech training. The mechanism of skills has the same line of development as the mechanism of knowledge.”
This particular quote may mean very little to most of my readers, but may explain why Otto Salomon kept a stone he found at Pestalozzi's gravesite on his desk throughout his time at Nääs up to the time of his death. His own grave site was engraved with the Swedish saying, "Good can be done, even from the grave," no doubt also a tribute to Pestalozzi and to hopes concerning the future of education and his own gifts to that future. The teaching and educational principles explored by Pestalozzi had a profound influence on the development of Educational Sloyd. If you read this carefully (It was quoted from How Gurtrude Teaches Her Children, P. 177), you can see that Salomon did through his exercises what Pestalozzi had suggested, creating an alphabet of skills.

The rock hound tools, shown in the photo above, will be used on a field trip tomorrow in which the students will gather crinoids, and later when the students go crystal and diamond digging in the spring.

Make, fix, and create.

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