Saturday, March 05, 2016

it can be a challenge.

Elm bowl by Buz Peine
Today I plan to run my upcoming classes through my head and provide a list of things that will need to be done prior to my arrival in Portland for classes on the18th. Planning these classes is more complex than most that I've done, as they want a series of classes rather than just one. I also have to plan for book sales and will place an order for books to be shipped to Oregon in advance of my arrival.

Yesterday we had a staff meeting and I was reminded of how much must be learned to become fully engaged in the culture of a school. With staff changes, the culture of the school and an understanding of the method behind each madness can often be poorly understood. The depths of a school culture can take years for a new teacher to assimilate and incorporate in planning. For example, we have a school travel program, but the idea of it is not to just throw a dart at the map and decide where to go next. The ideal is to plan what one studies in school to surround and embrace the off-campus learning. In planning for this year's trips, with new teachers, I learned that aspect had been missed. So the teachers have a wonderful trip planned, which will be educational without doubt, and of value and excitement but with  too little integration with in-class learning. Oops.

The problems is not with our teachers, however, but with failure to adequately assist the teachers in understanding the purpose of the travel in the first place. Travel is not just one more cool thing we do at Clear Spring School that makes the school unique. It is part of the school culture, woven through the rest of it, and to get that takes time. The travel is also an excellent resource to use in planning in-class learning.

My wood shop is a disaster in need of a thorough cleaning. So today I plan to use the tractor to haul away wood scraps and to make best use of a beautiful day. I have an editor from Fine Woodworking coming in June to shoot some articles, and as bad as the wood shop is messed up, and with my engagement in other things, it may take me that long to clean up.

The lovely elm bowl in the photo above is done by a friend Buz Peine and photographed by me yesterday for the Clear Spring School fundraising auction coming up next week.

Robert Keable Row wrote about the importance of manual arts training for the very young.
Because the sensory and motor impulses are unusually strong in the young children they present a condition that must be met.Generally the children will strive very hard to find some way of expressing these dominant impulses. If the school does not provide for their expression so much the worse for the school; it has a problem in repression. If it succeeds in repression so much the worse for the children. It is true that, under right conditions, many kinds of children's games do much for the development of motor control, but it must be remembered that play has its limitations. Play alone can never express the impulse to make, to decorate, to own, to design and plan, to produce something of value. For expression and development along these lines the young child needs much regular training in various forms of manual arts.
I have one student who has been a reluctant participant in wood shop. She is tool shy and inexperienced. She lacks confidence and often insists on just sitting while the other children are at work. She decided, however, to make a tool box for her grandfather. It became an exercise in attempting to get me to do most of the work on it. And so I did help to get the saw started in the right direction to make the cuts, and helped to fix some mistakes, and to get nails started.  If I had not helped, her shyness would have stopped all learning. But on Thursday, she got the box nailed together, and she sanded away splinters so the handle would be gentle on her grandfather's hands. Then came paint.

Yesterday she was watching for me and asked as I was arriving for the staff meeting if I could let her into the wood shop so she could work more on the tool box. "Sorry," I said. "You can't allow you to be in wood shop without me, and I have a meeting to attend." Perhaps she's learning that the opportunity to create should not be allowed to go to waste.

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

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