Monday, February 11, 2013

intuition and tact...

Installing frets...
Earlier in the blog I explored Otto Salomon's concept, "educational tact," which could be described as a heightened level of discernment closely related to intuition. Salomon believed that teaching at its best was an art and the exercise of "educational tact" was what made it so. Leonard J. Waks, in his essay on intuition wrote the following:
"Narrowing of the field of relevant educational values to explicit standards measured by standardized tests, and narrowing appropriate teacher behaviors to those explicated in curriculum guides and lesson plans... floods experienced teachers with verbal cues that overshadow their trained capacities. It blinds them to the circumstances at hand, strips them of their flexible control, nullifies their underlying vision of what is to be attained, and hence robs them of their sense of mastery. It makes them no more effective, and possibly less so, than novices. Because they need consciously to suppress their mastery, they are also robbed of the joys of teaching."
We can find this true in other fields as well. When folks are robbed of the opportunity to become deeply engaged in work, are held at the surface of things in a verbal morass and are not trusted to act creatively and responsibly at deeper levels of analysis and effect, self-esteems suffers and pleasure in workmanship is diminished.

The photo at left shows a ball chain used as a lid stay for a box lid. It presents and easy and inexpensive method to keep a lid from opening too far.

Today at Clear Spring School, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students learned to chisel mortises and cut simple tenons while making the new sloyd model I designed to help them gain those skills. The CSS high school students added frets to their box guitars. Can tuning pegs, bridges, nuts and strings be far behind?

Make, fix and create...


  1. In my best days as a teacher I felt like an orchestra conductor. It all came together. The students and I felt like we had accomplished something amazing. We couldn't ever get that feeling in a "tested" school environment.


  2. Today I think I was an orchestra conductor. The 4th, 5th and 6th tapping the chisel with the mallet, and sawing with Veritas back saws... You can hear the tone of the cut change as it nears its way through.

    The high school kids were routing, sanding and hammering frets. That's music to MY ears.

  3. Excellent! Good for you and your students.

    And it just occurred to me that the process that has removed thought from people's work has one example at just about any store or restaurant, where cashiers aren't even able to make change any more without the register telling them what it should be.