Thursday, January 21, 2016

forming an alliance of hands.

I had the day off from school yesterday due to icy roads (today, too!), so I was able to ship a box to Fine Woodworking for a product review and finish 10 tiny boxes, four of which will go to winners of a box making contest. I also learned that Popular Woodworking Books hopes to send my book Build 25 Beautiful Boxes to the printer at the end of February for distribution in June. I've not mentioned this book before because it is actually a compilation of projects from my first two books that had gone out of print.

In the meantime, there is a growing necessity to put children to work doing real things. But with the exception of my students at Clear Spring School, my hands are tied. Much of what will happen in the future of education if the hands are to be used as they must, will be up to you. The following is from Robert Keable Row's fine book, the Educational Meaning of Manual Arts and Industries:
Notwithstanding all that has been spoken and written regarding education, it seems probable that the great majority of persons fail utterly to comprehend the meaning of the educative process. The most common misapprehension is the confusion of schooling, scholarship, an acquaintance with books, with education. Of one person it is said, "His parents gave him an excellent education, but he has never amounted to anything. He has failed in everything he has undertaken." Another man who has proved himself unusually efficient in a calling requiring ability, sound judgment, and skill, is spoken of as "uneducated." The fact is, the first man was not educated; he was merely schooled. Possibly nature gave him little that could be educated, or the years spent over books may have unfitted him for the kind of work he might have done with success, if his schooling had been along different lines. The second man was merely "unschooled," unscholarly. But he must have had experiences, processes of training, that developed his power to do the things in which he had succeeded. Ultimately this must be the test of education, the judgment to determine what is worth doing, and the ability to do that thing well. There is another aspect of this misapprehension that deserves a moment's attention. To say a man was educated at Harvard, at Oxford, or at Leipsic is almost as misleading as the uses of "educated" and "uneducated" referred to above. The years spent at college may have been very important factors in the development of power and character; but other experiences quite apart from any kind of schooling, as those of the home, for instance, may have been vastly more important. In like manner, to speak of one as having "finished his education" is utter nonsense, unless he has died or become an imbecile.– Robert Keable Row, The Educational Meaning of Manual Arts and Industries
Schooling as it is practiced now in too many schools does not foster industry or lead to a predisposition toward industriousness. Most schools set for themselves the goal of pushing kids along  a track into college, so that the ultimate success or failure of their students will be measured elsewhere down the line.  But there are things to do to reshape American education that are not completely new. I'll remind you of music, of the arts, of laboratory science, of field trips, of nature study and athletics. And, let's not forget wood shop. What we need is an alliance of hands. We need science teachers, art teachers, music teachers, physical education teachers, math teachers, history teachers, literature teachers and reading specialists to all rise up along with woodworking teachers at the very same time in recognition of what the hands do to incite learning.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

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