Friday, November 15, 2013

today in New York...

Fiske Lecture 2013
I am in Clifton Park for my two days of box making class. Last night the Fiske Lecture was attended by over 100 woodworkers and I was amazed at how attentive my audience was. I guess the important point was that I was saying things about the relationship between the hands and brain that they already knew. It is easy to pay attention when what's being said resonates with what you find through an examination of your own experience. And as we begin acting upon what we know to be true, we offer the possibility of a renewal in American education. This doesn't mean we won't face the usual arguments against change.

The Herman Finkbeiner NWA Wood Shop
In 1876 the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition introduced the "Russian System" of woodworking education. At the same world's fair, an exhibit from the nation of Sweden brought Sloyd models to American attention, and a small Kindergarten that folks were allowed to visit captured the hearts of millions of visitors and awakened for them the notion that learning could involve something other than heartless drill.

Cutting lid panels to fit.
Calvin Woodward from Washington University and John Runkle from MIT, as a result of that fair were moved to become the founders of Industrial Arts Education in the US. It wasn't because there were students to be kept in schooling that weren't planning to attend college, but because all children needed what the hands could bring to learning. And yet, as in all things, folks have a tendency to become dumb and complaisant over time, and forget the original purpose of things.

There is a rich history related to the use of the hands in education that I hope to share with others. Last night's audience as attentive and interested. They asked very important questions. It is a distinct honor to be here. Now, more box making!

Cutting the lid from the body of the box.
We met today in the new NWA Herman Finkbeiner Woodworking Center, with 15 students, and made boxes. Today we had a quick class about design, we made a sled and keyed miter sled, assembled a couple boxes, cut the lid from the base and are ready to apply hinges in the morning.

Make, Fiske and create…

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