Tuesday, January 28, 2014

at work doing something you love...

I heard this morning from David J. Whittaker, author of a new book that will be of interest to Sloyders, The International Impact and Legacy of Educational Sloyd. Whittaker had gone to Finland in the 1950s to teach English and he became interested in the Finnish School system, Uno Cygnaeus, Otto Salomon and the international distribution of the Sloyd model of learning. Over the many years since, he wrote his Masters Thesis on the subject of Sloyd and found himself in conversations with Sloyders throughout the world. He's written a number of other books over his long career as a college professor. I'm grateful he's returned to his early roots in Sloyd as I believe his new book will be useful to those of us who believe in hands-on learning, and I will be writing more about it in the coming days.

Yesterday in the CSS wood shop, I had some young wood turners on my hands. I also developed a new way of preparing turning blanks from either round or square stock. Some readers will know that in order to safely turn spindles on the lathe between centers, an "X" cut in the end will help the drive center to have a good grip. The photo above shows how this "X" can be cut on the tablesaw.

The following is from Kindergarten in a Nutshell, by Nora Archibald Smith, 1899:
Moral Bearing of the Occupations:
But let us talk together of the moral bearing of the occupations; let us note the perseverance, the neatness, the orderliness of each small worker; let us observe how careful and economical he is in the use of all material; let us admire his long-continued patience in the face of difficulties, his self-restraint when failure makes fresh efforts necessary. In order to witness all these things in a majority of the children, one must, it is true, visit a really good kindergarten; but what then? Is not the ideal that for which we are all striving? Would it be of any value to describe to you what is less than the best?
One of the teachers tasks in post modern education is to assess children's learning to measure their success or failure and to require them to perform according to certain standards, so their learning can be placed into spreadsheets and their schools be held accountable, as though their lessons are little more than dollars and cents. It is amazing how in wood shop, when things fail on the lathe, how quickly children recover and ask, "can I please try again?" Or completing a turning to their satisfaction, they ask, "May I please do another?" How quickly they return to their labors when they are at work doing something they love! Can you compare that with other forms of schooling? Lifelong learning requires children to learn to assess their own work, not to externalized standards imposed by others but through discoveries in their own relationship to resources, materials and to each other. When we find ourselves doing things we love, that are inspired by our own inclinations, assessment takes care of itself.

Option 4, Maple and Walnut
Just in case you missed it, the poll at upper left is over and the winner is, "option 4." It was a squeaker, with option 3 coming in a close second. Wouldn't you know, the lids that are hardest to make are the ones we like best?

Make, fix, create, and encourage others to join you.

1 comment:

  1. Froebeltoday.com3:04 PM

    Froebel's Occupations are a wonderful way to take the lessons learned during Gift play and make them permanent. I am often surprised at the amount of patience a child will put into their task. They also generally do not give up. Occupations that have many steps to completion are great teachers in this day and age of instant gratification. To watch one's handwork develop over time is the greatest reward. I teach this way and more should. Your woodshop sounds very Froebelian. Good job teach!