Wednesday, June 19, 2013

getting back to it...

I got in a full day in the shop yesterday, but am still struggling a bit to get into the full swing of things. Anyone who has been self-employed in such a small business as my own can tell of the many hats which must be worn. I am both labor and management, and that means that if something needs to be done, I'm the man for it. And if I don't do it, it won't be done, and the business will suffer for my lack of attention.

I'm trying to get some boxes finished to distribute to my few local galleries that handle my work, and to fill an order for Appalachian Spring in Washington, DC.

I was intrigued by Arthur Levine's quote in yesterday's Washington Post, that universities are confused as to whether to treat teaching as a profession or as a craft, with one requiring "lots of education" and the other training and practice. If anyone were to be willing to understand learning from the vantage point offered by the hands, he or she would know that to learn anything of real substance requires both.

And so as a lifelong craftsman, one who has invested heavily in the training of my own hands and mind in the production of beautiful and useful objects, I think I have an interesting perspective that might be of service to educators if they were to burrow their way past the egotism of their entrenched positions. The schism forged as a sharp knife dividing the hands from the mind in the education of our kids is stabbing away at every effort to raise education to its highest standard.

Without the hands to test the propositions of mind, it is an empty vessel of meaningless proportions. Without the mind to cultivate the actions of the hands, they flail away at fruitless and destructive acts. When the mind and hands learn and act as expressions of our full humanity, human culture is on the rise. Forget the hands, we flail and fall. Separate the education of the mind from the testing and training of the hands and we've become stupid. As Anaxagoras had said in the 5th century B.C. "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." In the image above, Anaxagoras holds the world in one hand and points with the other.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. As a not quite lifelong craftsman, but just at it for quite a few years, I agree with your view of learning and teaching. But let me add another idea. The same skill that allows me to pack for a two-week trip in a fairly small suitcase, or which lets me pack all my instruments in the trunk of my car is a part of what we do. I've heard it described as "spatial perception." In other words, visualizing the final product, whether it's a box or a table or a packed suitcase. It's obviously work of the mind, but formed by experience with the hands.