I realize that I am not alone in being disappointed in the common level of craftsmanship in America. Industries often hire from outside the US because Americans had become convinced by educational policy makers that all children must go to college, whether they have an interest in academic subjects or not. A few years back the superintendent of Rogers Arkansas Public Schools had informed all her teachers at the beginning of the school year, that "they were failing every student who did not go on to get a 4 year college degree." This was based on the hype about the earnings differential between college graduates and those students who ended their educational careers at high school or less.
But as I mentioned yesterday, quality school is not just for those students who would become craftsmen in the traditional sense. Quality, what it is and how to get it or assess it applies to everything, whether you are a maker yourself, or simply a consumer who might use purchasing power to build the lives and careers of others.
“...persons not manually trained, generally regard the products of manual labour at less than their real value. They think it much more difficult to solve a mathematical problem than to make a table. It is not an easy thing to make a parcel-pin or a pen-holder with accuracy, and when students have done these things they will be the better able to estimate comparatively the difficulty of making a table or chair; and what perhaps is of still greater importance, they will become qualified to decide between what is good and what is bad work.”–– Otto SalomonSalomon also noted that the value of the carpenter's work is in the object, but the value of the student's work is in the student. What great benefit is accrued to the individuals within our civilization through the effortless production of vast quantities of meaningless stuff? And so a quality school would not just be about teaching a few folks to become better craftsman. It should be universal. There should be a quality school within each and every school on the planet, in which students might learn to apply hand and mind in the execution of difficult work.
The photo above is of the bench room where I teach creative box making and other classes at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. You can find out about the classes I'll teach next summer at marcadams.com Enrollment for next summer's classes will start soon, and because my classes are often sold out sign up soon as possible if you are interested.
Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.