Wednesday, September 30, 2015

getting started in woodworking...

 Yesterday morning I began a small home school class for three boys ages 6 though 8 who had never been in the wood shop before. Naturally, the mothers were a bit worried about the boys' safety, and I was a bit worried about having the materials ready for the boys to work. There are some simple rules that keep the boys safe. What I learned about materials was that anything goes. What kids like best is making things from their own imaginations.

My bin of wooden scraps became one boy's treasure trove as the other two practiced tool use. One boy cut a small cube of wood and turned it into a die with all the dots in their right places. Another made a space ship and landing field, while the third began work on a wooden robot.

Parents and grandparents often think that they must plan something special for their children to do. Instead, what may be needed most is that they provide the tools, the place to work, some materials to work with, and that they trust the children to have ideas of their own. It can be no more difficult than that.

One of the most important tools is some kind of vise or clamp to hold the materials so that the beginning woodworker can cut on a piece of wood or drill holes in it without endangering the non-dominant hand. H. Courthope Bowen in his book, Froebel and Education through Self-Activity wrote:
There is no more beautiful sight in this world of ours than a little child working for love and honor's sake. But by far the most important of the spontaneous activities of the young is that of play. It is the freest active manifestation of the child's inner self, and springs from the need of that inner living consciousness to realize itself outwardly.
Woodworking can be a from of play that helps children move toward the adoption of adult responsibilities. It can be done safely and children need to do it. The schools we have now are negligent of the child's creative needs and overwhelmed by unnecessary standards, so in my view, until we turn education toward a better direction, those with the capacity to create and an understanding of the value of it need to take matters into our own hands.

Make, fix, create and enable others to learn likewise.

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