Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The tools that the hands hold...

The tools that the hands hold, hold the hands, and guide them through the development of self. That was the point made by W. S. Harwood in his description of "Sloyd: The Swedish Manual-Training System," and published in the Outlook, 1898.
"It would be difficult to express in words the tremendous influence of Swedish sloyd.  It is an influence quite like some of the other great influences that have moved men—silent, subtle, it may be, always unpretentious, never wearying. It takes the boy and girt in that precious formative age when God alone knows how great the influences of environment and example and suggestion are, and it leads them steadily and consistently and with many a pleasant fascination past many of the deadly blight-spots of young life. It makes a boy busy; it takes up a corner of his heart and his mind where many a meaner thing might dwell. It trains him in habits of good thinking; it is suggestive of the pure and wholesome."

"Would you have the boy deft of hand and gentle of touch and keen of eye, and, in a homely word,"handy" the hole day long? You will not lead him away from but into the paths that turn to these if you place in his little restless hands the tools of the sloyder. They are hands, too, these tools; they grip him in a strong, loving grasp, and they hold him steadily to the right."
In American schools, the woodshop became the place you put "problem kids," those not easily manipulated and entertained by academic pursuits. And so with the decisions that all children must go to college (even though they won't) and that woodshops were only for those who weren't college bound, it made sense to some that they be eliminated from American schooling.  That was a startling display of the workings of a narrow mind. Early progressive educators had warned of schooling that neglected the "whole child" and that was "one-sided." The schooling we have now is too often in the hands of the narrow minded and "one-sided."

The drawing at left may help to convey the complications of holding a cube on edge for drilling. The angle along the edge of the cube is different from the angle of a flat plane on the other side. Your choice is to hold the cube with one angle or the other. The hollow cone worked by holding the cube at the edges. The assembled jig was designed to support the flat planes, each of which had a 55 degree angle.

This is the last shopping/making day before Christmas.

Make, fix, and create...

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