I have begun reading Knife Work in the School Room by George B. Kilbon, published in 1890 and claiming to be an American alternative to Educational Sloyd. It is all arranged as abstract lessons like, "how to make a square board," "how to make a conoid," or "how to make a sphere," using your pocket knife. Gone from the proposed method is the idea of making objects that might connect the family with what goes on in school or to engage the child's inclination to produce useful and beautiful things. Even in the early days of manual arts training, the theory of Educational Sloyd was met with incomplete understanding. Still, this book shows some useful techniques and it says a few good things:
"Owing to the changed conditions of society in all our cities the children who fill our schools have more mental education than they relish, and are hungry for any manual education which circumstances happen to throw within their reach. It is impossible for either the rich or ;the poor children to get this much-needed education at one, therefore the school is their only hope. Many parents are coming to realize this fact and to demand that manual training shall have a recognized place in the public school course."Sadly, that is no longer true. Times have changed. Most kids don't get woodworking in school. Most kids don't have tools in the home that would allow them to engage in creative after school pursuits. We can continue to take a hands-off approach to all things. When it comes to fixing things, we can choose, "let me not be bothered with that..." When it comes to empowering our kids, we may choose not to be bothered with that either. But we will most certainly become a nation of idiots if we continue to leave our children's hands idle when their hands might be put to work crafting their intelligence.
I am driving to Marc Adams School and will arrive tomorrow to set up for my box making class which begins on Tuesday.
Make, fix and create...