Wednesday, April 20, 2016

look ma, no hands.

through design and craftsmanship mind arises
I have been having my students write reflections on wood shop. They may write about what they want. Can it be improved? If so, how. How do they feel about their work? What are their favorite tools, or projects, and if so, why? Some of my students are reluctant writers and will have to redo or supplement what they've written. Some of their responses have been informative. Some have described how much the woodworking experience means to them. Oen, in second grade said only that he likes to be where there are so many tools.

One student noted that he pays so little attention to me, that its as though I'm not there. I think we have some work to accomplish in his direction.

My point in this exercise is that it concerns the essential connection formed between hand and mind.

At home we have a plumbing leak between the well casing, and the pipes that bring water to the house and the plumber is coming this morning to fix it. Yesterday, workers dug a deep muddy hole to uncover the pipes and this morning we'll drain the accumulated water from the hole, so the plumbers can proceed with repairs. The problem is that dissimilar metals tend to corrode where they are connected due to exchange of ions that pass between them. The pipes in the well are supported by a bronze fitting that connects through the steel well casing the steel pipes in the well to the steel pipes that carry water to the house. The whole apparatus is thoughtfully conceived of dissimilar materials.

In a way, the hands and mind, and the relationship between can corrode just as happened in my pipes and as we can witness in modern society.  They may seem of dissimilar material. The hands are all about sensing and doing, while the mind can journey on (and on) its own in conjecture and fantasy. And the mind full-blown can become dominant even up to the very edge of that bitter end at which the hands are forgotten, pipes leak, and society falls apart.

In the woodshop, it's not enough to mindlessly move the tool back and forth, expecting marvelous things to happen without constant attention and mindfulness. Outside the wood shop, you can't just think about things and make them happen. I had done a blog post over a month ago that listed various occupations that require hands-on learning. It might surprise you. Hands-on for what?

Today in the woodshop, we are beginning end of the year service projects. We need to build garden gates for the CSS vegetable garden, so as some are finishing their guitars, others will be working on design. My 4th, 5th and 6th grade students want to build bird houses. I will leave room for creativity in that. And I'll ask my students to be attentive to both hand and mind and attempt to repair the connection between the two.

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

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