Wednesday, December 17, 2014
the search for form...
In these pages, Jacobsen tells of a primary difference between Salomon's Sloyd and that promoted by Mikkelsen and taught in Denmark. It is a simple but distinct difference. Swedish sloyd starts with form and the tools and their exercises are the means to establish form. In Danish sloyd, tools came first, and form was the by-product of their use.
How can that matter? The Danish version of sloyd might lead to development of carpentry skills. The Swedish version of sloyd was intended to develop the individual.
As my middle school students stood yesterday at the lathe, turning blocks of wood into finished dreidels, they were comparing what they saw transforming before their eyes, and in their hands with a preconceived notion of perfect form.
Comenius had said something to the effect, that the craftsman and his or her work arise in the same gesture. The woman standing at the lathe, transforms the material and herself at the very same time. You can choose to call it artistry or craftsmanship. The inclination to do something well was described and understood by educators since the seventeenth century.
As this is the first day of Chanukah, I should also note the importance of craftsmanship in the Jewish tradition. Parents were instructed that to fail to engage children in craftsmanship was to throw them into a world of thievery.
Make, fix and create...