Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Trees and outdoor education...

The upper elementary students at Clear Spring School have been involved in outdoor education during the start of the school year and their particular focus has been on trees over the past week. Next week they will make cutting boards using woods that they have identified on campus, so they will learn something about grain, the working qualities of the woods, and to identify species and their potential uses. In other words, they will have a strong grasp of their environment and their interconnections to it.

If we were studying plastics and their uses, and what became of them when we were done with them, it would be a far less engaging stream of study, but it might lead us on a virtual adventure, from manufacturing plants in China to landfills in Oklahoma, and to the gyres of plastic detritus swirling at the centers of the oceans between continents. Those are important studies, but we must first learn to act and learn locally within our personal environments, before we take on the greater issues that trouble the planet.

One of the things that excited me as a beginning woodworker was to lay claim to the whole of the creative process, taking wood in its raw form, and crafting it to a finished object. The spirit of sloyd can be found in that. I can remember being given a piece of wood in 7th grade shop class and a sharp plane and being told to square its edges and flatten its face. The same will happen next week with my students.

At school I have been experimenting with various ways to make limbs for archery bows. I've laminated some, and have bent some using the boiling tank for making shaker boxes. I have also received brass knobs that I ordered for tiny boxes as shown in the photo above.

Make, fix, create... Help others to do likewise.

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