Thursday, March 27, 2014

Oneway, part two.

Oneway makes beautiful lathes and they are heavy. Yesterday the UPS Freight truck arrived during my middle school class and it was good to have them there for help. The two lathes were palleted, with each weighing over 600 lbs. The lift gate truck lowered them to the ground in front of the school building and we wheeled them into the school on a flat dolly. It may sound easier than it actually was. but we managed to get them in place without pinched fingers or aching back.

In the meantime, schools all across the US are at the point of testing to see if they've been successful in their implementation of the common core. Rather than common core, I would prefer that schools offer uncommon experiences. Our strength and survival as a social species has not been from our uniformity. We are each uncommon and bring diversity of ideas and diversity of experience to the common table.

So, while Oneway makes great lathes, oneway is not the most desirable pathway for kids to follow in school. We are attempting to push them through a slot, hoping that they will all emerge on the other side as uniform and efficient as grated cheese. That process might be fun for policy makers, but is a disgusting thing to do to kids and their unique interests.

Children when they meet middle school are a bundle of conflicting impulses. They want to be the same as their peers as expressed in their dress and mannerisms, but they are also very competitive in their attempt to stand out in the display of skill. Stand two boys at Oneway lathes and they will demonstrate for each other, what they can do with the tools, and how finely they can sand. And they don't need the teacher to interfere by giving marks.

Yesterday I mentioned an NPR news article about the loss of cursive handwriting in schools.
"Handwriting instruction is in danger of becoming increasingly marginalized."

If the claim is to be believed, that's a bad thing. And lots of reading specialists and academics believe it. It turns out, the real fear among those who study kids and handwriting is not that our schools will stop teaching cursive; it's what Steve Graham of ASU has noticed in recent years: "We don't see much writing going on at all across the school day," Graham says.

What are kids doing instead?

"Filling in blanks on worksheets," Graham says. "One-sentence responses to questions, maybe in a short response summarizing information."
In other words, we are turning kids into grated mozzarella, when we should be turning them on to wood turning. That would be the Oneway, that would work to revolutionize education.

Today I'll be working on boxes and preparing for my teacher class on Friday when I'll have the Clear Spring School staff in the wood shop to make Froebel's gifts.

I'm also working with Taunton Press today on gallery pages at the end of my newest book. The photo at left was taken by staff at Fine Woodworking and shows a representative sample of boxes I made and that you can make, too.

Make, fix and create...

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