Friday, November 04, 2016
knife, chisel plane
Otto Salomon developed a series of models (the model series) which was to be changed and adapted to the needs (and interests) of children in various communities. The model series was not to be set in stone, as children were different in different nations, and there were different customs and different things they might be inspired to make. Behind the series was a carefully crafted set of exercises in the use of various tools. These were the basic exercises of craftsmanship and were to be used in the selection of models, and were arranged, and introduced through the making of models based on the principles of sloyd: moving from known to unknown, from easy to more difficult, from simple to complex, and from concrete to abstract. You can find these exercises on P. 80 of Otto Salomon's book, The Theory of Educational Sloyd.
In the illustration of the knife, the chisel and plane you can see that the cutting edge of each tool is similar in purpose, but that the use is more clearly prescribed and limited as technology moves from simple to complex. And yet, the knife was the introductory tool in educational sloyd (particularly in Norway, Finland and Sweden) because the students were already familiar with and comfortable with its use, and the knife offered a far greater range of possible forms. It also offered an invitation to the investigation and understanding of the material that the other similar tools did not.
While a plane would be a safer introduction than either the chisel or knife, it was of more limited use, and the children of Scandinavia were already prepared for safe use. In Denmark, and in the UK, educators argued against the knife, considering it too risky to use in schools, and unrelated to the carpenter's trade.
My own situation at Clear Spring School is unique and I'm not sure how to directly help those who would like to develop programs of their own. On way would be to take the projects that have worked for us, and to describe them and the preparation work required. So a woodworking curriculum can be described from a project base. Another way to establish a curriculum would be to base it on the introduction of various tools, as to age appropriateness, and increasing complexity. A third, more free wheeling approach is to simply follow the interests of the child and require reflection.
You can see that I'm struggling a bit here to do what I said I would do. Ask questions if you like.
Today is the first day of the Artist Studio Tour. My shop, finish room and office are cleaned and ready for guests.
Make, fix, create, and extend to others a chance of learning likewise