Sunday, April 08, 2018

yesterday and last night...

Yesterday we had wood carving club at ESSA with some new carvers trying their hands at it. There was an interesting discussion about what happens in trees during the winter months. Are they completely dormant or are other things happening within? Part of the discussion involved the formation of rings and the difference between northern grown bass wood and what we have here in the south with regard to its carving properties.

One thing that happens in wood is that as a season of growth ends, some of the minerals from the sapwood are passed into the areas of earlier growth forming heartwood which is darker in color and more dense. It may be that the colder northern climate increases this effect.

I spent part of the time building tool storage shelves in the ESSA wood shop closet and putting things in new places.

Last night I attended the Clear Spring Fling, which is a benefit art auction to support the school. The amount of effort that goes into it is enormous. The artists and local merchants give generously, The food is phenomenal, and the money raised by benefactors is essential to the operations of Clear Spring School.

Last night, one of the school's founders shared her father's points about the value of independent schools. One is that public schools are made better by the presence of a good private school. Another is that private schools are the laboratory of innovation. One that was not mentioned is that private schools are dependent on community engagement. Unlike public schools supported by the mechanism of the state that extracts school funding in the form of taxes, allowing public schools to go on with or without community involvement, you will find private school parents deeply involved.

Last night's art auction was a good example, and community engagement leading up to last night's culmination has gone on for months. While public schools have to search backpacks, and establish defensive perimeters, very small private schools like the Clear Spring School offer a different example in which the school becomes an extension of family life. You will see this in the school parking lot each afternoon at the close of school. Parents enjoy talking with each other and planning social things together, while their kids continue to play past the school hours, rather than being loaded into buses as is the case in our local public school.

Yesterday a reader suggested that volunteers might be brought into schools to assist in hands-on learning. I can not think of a better idea, or one more unlikely to be adopted by schools that have been hardened to repel gun violence. We need a cultural sea change... one in which teachers are regarded with respect, children are recognized as the precious resource they truly are, in which students are safe both in and out of school, in which schools become an extension of community and family life with few barriers between, and in which the rights of life, liberty, due process and the pursuit of happiness are protected equally for all.

With all that said, there are four simple changes that we should consider. 1. Reduce class sizes. There is strong statistical evidence that size matters. 2. Reduce poverty. The amount of time that young  people spend in poverty has direct measurable adverse effect on their educational success. The third thing is to support Hippy reading  ( ) to launch an army of young mothers  in reading to their kids. And last but far from least, make all learning hands-on, planned according to the principles of Educational Sloyd.

The photo shows a simple new way to sharpen a dowel to form the stem of a top. Put the dowel in an electric drill and use a common block plane to sharpen the spinning tip.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning lifewise.

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