Tuesday, August 01, 2017

telling the story of ourselves.

Oak shrink pot by Richard Law
Richard Bazeley in Australia sent me a scanned page from a book Storymen by Hannah Rachel Bell with the following explanation:
"It's a book largely about David Mowaljarlai an aboriginal elder of the Kimberly region in the north of Western Australia and his efforts to explain through story his people's knowledge and ways of learning. Aboriginal culture and knowledge... 60,000 to 65,000 years old, is passed on by oral and experiential learning (hands on learning). I think that this extract makes an interesting point about the difference between our two cultures and the impact of learning methods on culture."
I will quote from only a portion that may give you the point.
"For those cultures that developed settlements, civilizations and empires the evolution of written languages enabled the development, control and operation of religious, political, social and economic institutions. While access was initially restricted to the élites, reading and writing systems eventually became the means by which people explored the mind and the universe, and communicated story. However these abstract symbolic codes also served to progressively detach human populations from direct, literal connection with the natural world."
Richard Bazeley as he is moving into retirement from teaching wood shop is exploring green woodworking and currently the making of small shrink-pot boxes, a technique dating at least to the Viking era. The idea is that you hollow the form from green wood, make and fit a bottom from dry wood and then allow the sides to shrink, locking the bottom firmly in place. There's a tutorial about the technique here: http://johns-woodnstuff.blogspot.com/2013/11/shrink-pot-tutorial-pt-1.html

The point is that while language can be ignorant of nature to the point that human culture puts itself at dire risk, understanding other non-linguistic means of finding and sharing meaning offer the key to human survival.

As I shared with my class last week and with many of my students throughout the years, story telling is not unique to human beings. The story of the life of the tree is written in its grain. Where there's a knot, there had been a branch. And using woodworking to tell our own story of growth and development is a great fit. Unlike a lot of things these days, it's natural.

Some lovely shrink pots can be found here:  http://www.flyingshavings.co.uk/shop/shrink-pots/

Make, fix, create, and increase in others a love of learning likewise.

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