Friday, December 05, 2014

20 making days left...

If you've no skill or understanding to impart to a next generation, you might as well stop reading right now and never come back to the blog again, or take what you don't know how to do and base your further explorations on that... In school, I've been trying to get my students started early in the process of conveying how-to knowledge by having them write brief how-to pieces. One submitted her draft yesterday on how to hammer a nail. I had hoped that she would take the photos herself, but she chose the easy way that is ever present on the internet... She simply copied from the vast array of images that are available. Another student is making a wooden sword, and taking the photos with her iPhone... a bit more pleasing and also readily available approach. Several of my students are interested in making Jefferson Ciphers, a system of coding and decoding messages through a cylindrical device, so one made his first prototype in yesterday's class.

I attended an art show last night and chatted briefly with a fellow craftsman of my own age who has become concerned that he may only have another 10 to 15 years before he will have to make drastic changes in his life. His biggest concern is that he may not be able to manage his same level of creativity and exploration. The tools that he has developed for his use will be meaningless in untrained hands.

On the same subject, I got an email from a person involved in "Technology Education," suggesting that my use of the term as interchangeable with manual training, manual arts, industrial education and all the other myriad terms that have been applied to woodshop has been mistaken. He said, "My understanding of Technology Education (in brief), is, the study of the history and evolution of technology and technology’s influence on society." The first use of the term technology in all this pertaining to education, I beleive was Uno Cygnaeus' use of the term "techne"... a term still in use in Scandinavia in reference to the manual arts. Technology in the US is often used in reference to tools and devices, rather than referring to technique, which also comes from from the Greek,  tekhnologia.
technique (n.) Look up technique at
1817, at first especially in criticism of art and music, from French technique "formal practical details in artistic expression" (18c.), noun use of technique (adj.) "of art, technical," from Greek tekhnikos "pertaining to art," from tekhne "art, skill, craft in work" (see techno-).
technology (n.) Look up technology at
1610s, "a discourse or treatise on an art or the arts," from Greek tekhnologia "systematic treatment of an art, craft, or technique," originally referring to grammar, from tekhno- (see techno-) + -logy. The meaning "study of mechanical and industrial arts" (Century Dictionary, 1902, gives examples of "spinning, metal-working, or brewing") is first recorded 1859. High technology attested from 1964; short form high-tech is from 1972.
It would be pleasant for some teachers to address technology purely as an historical subject. They could stand at the head of the class and lecture on the subject. But it would be dry for their students and would ignore the human element and the human-hand in the development of human culture... Technique,  or techne, describes the human relationship with the instruments that have developed human culture. I humbly suggest that the isolated study of the history of the development of technological devices would ignore the learning potential that would come from the making and actual use of those devices.

A great and good man, an atheist, who had rescued hundreds of children from the Nazi holocaust was asked how it could be possible to be such a good man without believing in some particular religion or another. He informed the interviewer from the BBC that he believed not in God, but in ethics.

Regardless of your religious persuasion or lack of persuasion, there is a clear reason to engage our children in craftsmanship. The values imparted through it are the foundation of human culture.

For those of the Christian persuasion, we now have 20 making days til Christmas. For shoppers this season, all hell has broken loose. If you want some quiet shopping for hand-made work, please attend my show at Lux Weaving Studio, tomorrow evening, Friday December 6, 4-8 PM.

Make, fix and create...

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