Tuesday, March 12, 2013

action clarifies thought...

I've been asked by an agent to supply one more thing for a proposal that will enable them to begin pitching my hands-on learning book to publishers... a portion of a chapter from the second part of the book that will enable them to see and understand my writing style and help them to evaluate my ability to actually produce a quality book. The first thing to note is that I do quite well writing in short spurts where my passions are aroused, and I am allowed to repeat some of the same points, looking at them from various angles That makes me a pretty good blog writer, and I assume that blog readers come here to get refreshed in their own relationship with their hands.

Writing a book can tend to be a long slog in the mud. And that may very well be why educational materials tend to be a bore. And yet, if a book could shift the educational dialog toward thinking about the hands and the role the hands play in leanring, and the vast potential for change that exists in our relationship with them, we could have a very special movement on our hands. That movement would clarify and reinforce the arts in school, would bring a renewed interest in science (as it is best learned hands-on), would increase children's interest in being in school, make school more fun and creative for teachers, scare the crap out of current administrators, and create a new interest in school wood shops.

And so this morning, that is my subject here in the blog. Action clarifies thought. In woodworking, cutting  a few joints can help one understand how parts can fit together, and once done, thought is complete. In writing, getting a few things down as words on paper or computer screen can bring clarity to thought. And just as in cutting a few joints, at some point, a man or woman must plunge write in. So today, I'll balance my time between office and wood shop.

Ben Franklin said: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."  With that said...

Make, fix and create...


  1. Following up on Ben's comment, maybe all three steps are needed.


  2. Mario,
    I've learned a few things by listening when I've allowed my mind to get involved willingly in being taught. So, yes, perhaps it can take all three. This Franklinism seemed to fit with the title of today's post.


  3. This is very much in line with "moving towards the concrete from the abstract", the sloyd principle you often mention and detail in your blog.

    I am in the process of building a new woodworking shop. This is for a part time business that I am starting that will involve building wooden toys with my children. Actually the building is up, but am working on installing air lines, machinery, etc.

    My son, Joseph, wants to participate as much as possible which is a great joy for me. Last night, however, he had homework from school so he asked if he could do his homework out in the shop while I install some air lines. I agreed.

    His homework involved adding fractions. He posed the question - "Will I be needing to add fractions in this shop?”

    To which I answered, “Absolutely”.

    I proceeded to show him on a tape measure, the kinds of fractions he would be dealing with – 1/4ths of an inch, 1/8ths of an inch, etc. Also, I had just completed measuring where I wanted to mount my air filter and regulator and told him that I had to add several fractions to determine the exact size of the wooden mount that I had just cut. So I read off the fractions to him that I had used. He added them up and then we used his answer to confirm that the piece I had cut actually was the right size. I could see him light up with this new knowledge of how he could apply fractions to the real world.

    I am guessing that from now on, he will want to do his homework out in the shop whenever possible. I wouldn’t be surprised if his sisters (he has 3 that are school aged) join him soon for the same reason.

    By the way… I have followed your blog for a couple years now. I think I own most of the books you have published. You provide great insights and I think any additional books you write on these subjects will help bring further clarity for the followers of your blog as well as others. I am not exactly sure of the books you are in the process of writing now, but one that I would love to have (I am sure others would too) is a book that details an example workshop program for a school to use as a model. I am sure they would want – and be expected – to adapt it to complement whatever the themes are of the lessons that are being taught by their school throughout the school year, much in the same manner you do today at Clear Spring. Ideally, I think the book would apply sloyd principles. I am not sure where my current endeavor will lead me, but have thought that just maybe it will include a school workshop, someday – to which this kind of book, would be an invaluable help guide. No doubt your blog has provided significant guidance, but a book around concrete examples as well as the principles and guidelines around developing a program would be of great value. Another added benefit of such a book would be to help me pitch the idea to my local school which I believe has done away with all the workshop programs they used to have years ago.

    P.S. Not sure why my name shows as Joe Miler when it is Joe Miller.

  4. Joe, thank you for your observations. You'll see that i made use of your comment in today's post. We learn best from life itself, not from abstraction.

    Those who DO stuff understand relevance and embrace learning with greater enthusiasm. And this isn't true only in discovering the relevance of math. As it says on the top of each blog page, "We engage the world and its wonders, sensing and creating primarily through the agency of our hands. We abandon our children to education in boredom and intellectual escapism by failing to engage their hands in learning and making."