I realize that the telling of things, even when we try to make language as precise as we can, will not tell the whole of things. A picture is worth a thousand words, but if some prior experience of what the picture portrays is not available to the viewer, even a million words will not suffice. Experience in doing something is required in order to understand.
Man is a Tool-using Animal. Weak in himself, and of small stature, he stands on a basis, at most for the flattest-soled, of some half square foot, insecurely enough; has to straddle out his legs, lest the very wind supplant him. Feeblest of bipeds! Three quintals are a crushing load for him; the steer of the meadow tosses him aloft, like a waste rag. Nevertheless he can use Tools, can devise Tools: with these the granite mountain melts into light dust before him; sea are his smooth highway, winds and fire his unwarying steeds. Nowhere do you find him without Tools; without Tools he is nothing, with Tools he is all. –– Thomas CarlyleBut possessing tools is only part of the equation. One must also have experience in their use.
A reader, Scott, sent me a link to an article in the Cleveland Plains leader about yet another lost high school wood shop. I was hoping the tide was beginning to turn. It's the same old story. How are woodworking and craftsmanship relevant in the age of industry? Parents who haven't taken wood shop don't understand it. Kids who think all things should be spewed digitally from the end of a nozzle don't get it. Now, industry involves robotics and the idea is that fewer folks than ever will be required to have skill.
Educators often overlook the development of character that stems from making something useful and beautiful with the tools that have traditionally engaged craftsmen. So failure to understand the value of craftsmanship in schools is nothing new. Making useful objects with lasting beauty is not easy, and you can't measure skill on an ACT or SAT test. But development of skill is the fundamental building block of human morality. Some are mistaken in thinking that a moral human culture comes from Sunday school and being instructed in religious principles. But when you are directly involved in crafting useful beauty, you are engaged in exercising fundamental human values and in learning truth from life itself.
Make, fix and create...