Thursday, May 14, 2015

the interests of the child

Edutopia has an article about 8 myths that are undermining American education. Among the eight  selected from about 50 more are that class size doesn't matter, that good teachers can do it all, without excellent parental support, and that a good program can be cut and pasted to other schools to achieve the same results.

Randall sent an article that tells that common words of childhood in the youth dictionary are being pruned to exclude words based on the child's traditional relationship with nature, to thereby make room for new terms referring to  computing and the child's engagement in computing and virtual reality. I encounter these new terms each day as most of my kids in first and second grade are deeply immersed in minecraft and zombies. The chatter as they work is infused with new culture that is arising as parents leave them unattended at computer screens and less engaged in outdoor play.

According to the Oxford Junior Dictionary, words no longer needed include ash, beech, buttercup, pasture, willow and a whole lot more that would normally illustrate a relationship between the child and a natural world. Robert Marfarland calls for a "rewilding our language of landscape" to include words and phrases that nincompoops of worldwide culture no longer think are necessary to a child's life. Kids need fresh infusions of the real world to bring words of the wild back into their vocabularies and to give them meaning and to give greater meaning to the life of the child. The new world broadband does not describe a child with broad experience in the real world, but a rather narrow one.

Today I'll be setting up for the White Street Art Walk. This is the 25th annual, and I'll be at my usual spot, Lux Weaving Studio, 18 White St, Eureka Springs on Friday, 4 to 9 PM.  We hope the rain passes and the moon shines down on a lovely evening.

On Sunday, Books in Bloom will connect readers and writers on the grounds of the Crescent Hotel, from noon until 5 PM. My wife Jean is the co-founder and co-director of the event, now in its 10th year. for Books in Bloom we again hope the rain passes without effect.

If you want more reading about woodworking education, please go to this earlier blog piece from 2011, On the interests of the child.

On yet another subject, my cousin's son Scott Muns has an excellent review in the Washington Post, reminding that the Wisdom of the Hands is not only about woodworking, for the hands touch everything, including the culinary arts.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I'd also bet that there's a relationship between our youth's excess involvement in techno-gadgetry and their lack of resilience or commitment; reason being, you can make a laptop or a smartphone do anything you want it to do, within its range. But the world of people and nature is full of surprises and compromises and set-backs and progress through delayed gratification. I wouldn't doubt that, without parental oversight, the most gadgeted children have a tendency to also be the most "impossible".

  2. That is a very interesting observation. I wish someone would do some research to test your hypothesis. We can learn some from our own experience as we watch ourselves as we navigate between digital and non digital tasks. Does anyone get particularly angry when our technologies fail us? Even the world of technology has surprises and set backs to overcome. But with it, we are in a not so brave new world. We should be more thoughtful and wonder more where we are going with it. Work that has monetary value will inevitably be taken from us, as it is the job of capitalism to make more capital with fewer resources. The job of people is to make more meaningful relationships, which I think involves slowing down and paying careful attention... a thing you hone and develop capacity for through craftsmanship.