Saturday, April 19, 2014

that settles it...

In my poll at right the vast majority chose the veneered box with the matching lid over the one that was purposefully mismatched. I should have known that would happen, and I believe you all with the exception of two brave souls gave the more conservative answer. I'll dial back my own adventurous creativity in the hopes that one or both boxes will sell.

Today I applied a second coat of Danish oil on boxes I am preparing to ship to Appalachian Spring on Monday.  And I am preparing additional boxes to sell at a show next weekend in Little Rock.

I am planning to help my high school students make a turned chalice on the lathe for their comparative religions class, and I spent most of today trimming new windows in the house. Because of the irregularities of stuccoed walls, I have to scribe each trim piece to fit and so I've been running back and forth from each window to the work shop, fine tuning each piece. Each piece of trim takes about 5 trips, but once each is completed it should last for 40 years or more. I wonder how many people still have the skills to do such things, or would take pleasure in it?

It seems that many people see understand the failure of Standardized testing to be an effective tool in school reform. There are obvious problems with it. But folks are reluctant to go cold turkey and get rid of the damn things. Some things are easy to measure and we devote school time to those things to the neglect of development in areas that are hard to measure. Standardized testing for reading and math doesn't address student development in the areas of collaboration and creative problem solving and those areas are also important to student success.

I am hoping to do an op ed on the subject of the Beaufort scale and how something like it could be useful to wrest assessment from the cold hands of the standardized testing industry. I can understand looking at your iPhone to learn what the weather is out of doors, but to wait until test scores are announced to get a handle on how well your child is doing in school and how well his or her school compares with other educational opportunities is plain stupid. To used standardized testing to try to guide school reform is even more so.

Today I also finished a small finger jointed box with tray as shown above.

Make, fix and create...


  1. What do you do to teach collaboration? (the obvious one of having group projects and hoping the students figure something out from it didn't seem too productive in this regard).
    I'd be interested in a future article on that if your program has given this some deliberate thought.

  2. Matt, one project that our upper elementary school students did recently was make shadow boxes as miniature theaters for group performances. They wrote their plays and made the theater and puppets. The students were divided into groups of three. When the students were in the wood shop to make their theaters, one group had lengthy animated discussions as to the size of it, how it was to be made and how the stage was to be set. It took a lot more time for them to make theirs than it took some others who took a more straight forward, less creative approach.

    But if the point of schooling is for children to learn to work well with each other, to work in the kinds of collaborative environments that they will have to work in as adults, I think you can see the point.

    The point is not to teach collaboration. That will come naturally to kids who know the basics of how to get along with each other, treat each others' ideas with respect, who care for each other, and have an interest in learning.