Wednesday, April 16, 2014


"When something is palpable, you can touch or handle it, even though the word is often used to describe things that usually can't be handled or touched, such as emotions or sensations. You probably won't see palpable used to describe, say, an egg or a doorknob or a motorcycle. Palpable is usually reserved for situations in which something invisible becomes so intense that it feels as though it has substance or weight."
The word palpable comes from Latin palpare "touch gently, stroke." On the other hand, children who get their hands on electronic devices too soon are losing the capacity to do other things. Parents have been in a mad rush to get digital devices into their children's hands as early as possible due to concerns that they will be left out of the digital age. They've been made to feel guilty if they've been unable to afford these devices for their kids. Those children too soon given the powers of digital manipulation may be left out of real human creative capacity. Even the ability to play with blocks is being lost to a new generation of children that have been given early access to iPads and other touch screen devices. Can that be a good thing?

This article in the New York Times offers insight into building the moral character of the child. Raising a Moral Child.

Yesterday I began sanding a mountain of small boxes. As you can see in the photo there is a lot of sanding to do after the boxes are first assembled. I use the band saw to even the ends of the boxes with the angle of the lids, and then sand the ends flush on the top, bottom front and back of each box. After rough sanding on the stationary belt sander, I routed the edges, and front edge of the underside of the lid and I am now moving through grits on my inverted half sheet orbital sander, paying careful attention to each surface.

For just a moment, I want you to reflect on your own learning with the recognition that you are not unusual or outside the norm. You may have noticed that those things that you have use for are easy to learn and long remembered but those things that are no longer useful to you are quickly discarded. Those things that you have no use for are often difficult to learn, as your interest has not arisen to the point at which they matter to you. A wandering mind gathers no moss. So it is. The brain cleanses itself of useless clutter.

The Common Core Curriculum being foisted upon children in schooling throughout the US will likely not have the effect that is hoped for. While offered with the best of intentions, the Common Core trivializes and de-contextualizes learning, turning the schools into bastions of artificiality. Emphasis on the Common Core may raise standardized test scores in the short term and at the expense of other learning, but it will be on the order of miraculous for it to have any long term positive effect. The pendulum swings. joyless classrooms will prevail for only a short time before parents and students (the best and brightest of them) launch into full rebellion. That's when wood shop will pop in again. When students do real things in school: art, music, athletics, laboratory science and wood shop, they embrace learning and their enthusiasm is palpable. It can be felt.

Make, fix and create...

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