Wednesday, October 14, 2015

wooden swords and pointy sticks

Whittling the end of a bow.
I have a class of home schooled boys meeting in the Clear Spring School woodshop on Tuesdays (for one more week). The object of the class was to make toys, but following the interests of these boys, led us all astray. Yesterday I had made a model semi-truck as an example of what they could make, and in a more structured situation, I might have insisted that they do what I had planned for them.

Instead, they wanted to carve on the bowls they had started in the previous week, and when one discovered that a thin board could be cut to better resemble a sword, the others followed along. One boy made 4 small wooden swords and a light saber. Two swords were for his sister, one each for his mom and dad, and the light saber he planned to keep for himself. With that many swords made, he was so proud of his work he was ready to go home. So I showed him how to carve a stick to a point with a knife.

At the close of class I  counseled the boys on the responsible use of toy swords and sharp sticks and turned them over to their mothers. That raises the question, will the mothers be too frightened to bring them back for the last class?

N. Christian Jacobsen had noted that if knives were to be considered too dangerous for schools where children would be under close supervision by adults but that children were to be allowed to use them unsupervised outside of school, there was a false logic at work. Would it not be better that children be taught to use knives safely and responsibly as tools of creativity and not danger?

Educators have asked about my Clear Spring School woodworking curriculum in the hopes that they could emulate our program. But we have no set woodworking curriculum. We have a set of tools and a strategy as follows:
  1. Start with the interests of the child.
  2. Work from the easy to the more difficult. 
  3. Move from the known to the unknown.
  4. Work from the simple to the complex.
  5. Rely consistently on the concrete to illuminate and test the abstract.
Make, fix, create, and insist that others learn likewise.

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