Wednesday, July 13, 2016

economy part two.

When we think of the word economy, we tend to think large and complex. We ought instead think of Thoreau, of Shakers, of parsimony, and of great grandparents who wasted not a single thing. I mention the Shakers in reference not only to thrift but to the quality of design that is reduced to utter simplicity. I mention Thoreau because he suggested a path toward a more meaningful life. Economy of thought can lead to an uncluttered state of mind, allowing us to live more simply, and to reveal and release something greater in ourselves toward building the value of community.

Craftsmanship is actually a gift that we give to ourselves, and not just something we give to others.

I had an interesting experience at Marc Adams School this year. (As I do every year.) Making tiny boxes with all those small parts, it makes great sense (economy of effort) to work on more than one box at a time if for no other reason than it is safer to work on long parts than on short pieces. This is particularly true when faced with difficult operations.

My plan was to have each student make one box with sides formed by a molding cutter. It was also my plan to use the lesson in the use of material to demonstrate an important point of safety. I had enough stock for each student to make one box but the process required each student to team up with another, each student sharing in the milling (which required two steps) and the stock, receiving one end of it after milling for their own box. I carefully explained to the whole group how the process would work, that it required sharing, and that each student must choose a partner with whom to share. In other words, we had 18 students and only 10 pieces of stock, as I allowed for two extra that could become 4 boxes.

It appeared that I had everyone's attention and that they had listened attentively as I described the lesson. But when it came to actually doing the work, students came to me, one after another, saying there was not enough stock. Had I really spent the last 5 minutes carefully explaining one of the most basic principles of kindergarten to a group of 17 woodworkers, only a few of whom had actually listened and understood one of the most basic lessons of life? To share? After more than a few students claimed there was not enough stock, we quickly produced more just to avoid making students embarrassed for having forgotten the most basic lesson of kindergarten and of life.

One of the very first lessons in kindergarten (and in the home) is the idea of sharing. It is the true basis of economy. You take this end of the board, I'll take the other, and by working together, we'll each get a box. While politicians will blather on and on about "it's the economy, stupid," there are much more important principles of economy than those represented by the economy they are talking about. Economy can refer to thrift in the use of resources, and careful refinement of steps.  It offers safer workmanship, and it provides opportunity to establish deeper relationships of trust.

I'll not blather on about this today. A word to the wise is sufficient, and there's also economy in that.

Yesterday in the wood shop, I continued work on box guitars. Today I may do the same.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment