Tuesday, May 29, 2018

a social experiment

It might surprise some that the Clear Spring School wood shop is such a social experience. The students praise each other. They share. They compete. They inspire each other. They collaborate. And while early day manual arts classes had students assigned to individual benches, that would not work well at the Clear Spring School. My first grade students like to sit very close to each other and work together, their ideas blending into a single form.

I ran across an interesting title and description for a lecture in Norway, by Nora Sternfeld entitled: "Give her the tools, she will know what to do with them!” Sternfeld offers the following:
Some Thoughts about Learning Together
How can we learn something that doesn't exist yet? On the one hand this sounds paradoxical. But isn't it on the other hand exactly what radical education is all about? Learning as a political and emancipatory practice has always been understood as a process towards another possibility: as a way to understand the social relations in order to change them; to understand them as they might only be understandable in another world. And maybe by doing so this one might change… As this process of self-transformation is a collective practice we can only learn it together.
If anyone wants to know what goes on in the CSS woodshop, it is surely a process of social and political transformation.

On Saturday Larry Copas showed me a new tool to use at the lathe, and as Nora suggests a single tool can open doors of possibility. Some of my students had been wanting to make blow guns to shoot darts, and the gun drill on the lathe would be the perfect tool for that, allowing us to use the lathe to drill perfect straight holes from one end of a piece of wood to the other.

I spent much of the say yesterday, writing about tools and safety, and the safe introduction of tools in school, according to the principles of Educational Sloyd. I hope these chapters and sidebars will become the basis for a reintroduction of wood working in schools, not just to push us back in the direction of being a manufacturing nation, but to restore a process of social, personal and collaborative transformation, available to all students. The theory of Educational Sloyd can be applied as a guide to all learning endeavors.

I have been reviewing Scott Bultman's 75 minute long pitch video on Kindergarten and captured a screen image from it to share with you. It is one of many shots taken in the CSS wood shop of my students at work. The pitch video is intended to bring investors and collaborators on board with the project.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others be permitted to learn likewise.

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