Friday, October 09, 2015

Each year at this time...

It is a rainy morning in Arkansas, with fall weather having brought an end to late summer drought.

Each year at this time, I get an order from Appalachian Spring Galleries in Washington, DC and have to turn my attention to making boxes for sale. So yesterday I cut rough walnut and basswood into appropriate widths, and resawed them into thinner stock for box ends, bottoms and sides. It is a soothing process, as I've done it so many times before. After the parts are cut to length I'll put my new 4 position router table through its paces. It is a router table with 4 routers in it, each set up to do a step in the making of these boxes. The idea is that having the tools set up and dedicated to certain steps will allow me to quickly make boxes in the various sizes required.

I woke up in the night thinking about Freidrich Frobel and the need I have to clarify his thoughts so they can be easily conveyed for a fresh generation. He had 4 main themes.

One was connectedness. He believed that knowledge was diminished when it was compartmentalized and isolated from the broader scheme of things, and that one particular duty of education was to bring the child tightly into the fold of civilization and to exercise responsibility in the natural world.

A second point could be called continuity. The child's flow of learning should be continuous from one age to another, and in order to do that, he arranged the gifts in an order natural to the child's growing mind, and intellectual capacity. Followers of Froebel envisioned manual arts in school as the means to extend Kindergarten style learning beyond the Kindergarten age.

A third point is creativeness. Not only was the child to learn by example and instruction, Froebel recognized that learning was best measured and expanded in the child's life and for the sake of human culture by what the child did in response to learning. Education in which the child passively received instruction or laerned merely from books and was not afforded the opportunity to test what was learned was considered "one-sided" and incomplete.

Froebel's fourth  and overarching point was the doctrine of self-activity. That is truly where the hands come into play. For activity is the direct opposite of the passivity enforced by most schooling.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.


  1. Thanks for continuing to provide clarity and insights about Freidrich Frobel. I have purchased several of his books (via print on demand) that you have mentioned on this site and find them of great interest. These represent some of the best books I have ever read. I too hope to incorporate some of his principles in what we do in the shop where we build wooden toys with our children.

    In regards to the 4 position router table that you mention....I would love to see some pictures of that. I have had thoughts about building a router table that holds 3 routers since we have some projects that we do as well that require several cutters and having such a table would cut down on setup time. When I saw you mention 4, I thought that table layout would be more challenging and so was curious.

  2. I hope this is the seed of a book, Doug.