Saturday, May 05, 2018

Making canes on NPR

Yesterday the Ozarks-at-Large report on our making hardwood canes at the Clear Spring School was broadcast on KUAF, an NPR affiliate and made available as a podcast at this address:

The point of  the lesson  and the point of the message my students and I share in the podcast is that students have a calling and a longing to do things that are of clear value to family and community. Listen and let me know if the point came through.

Today I will use my Kubota to pull a float in the Artrageous Art Parade, part of our city's May Festival of the Arts. Instead of throwing out candy to the folks lining the street, we have 550 balsa wood gliders to distribute, and our theme for this year's float is "Take Flight." 150 gliders are assembled for flying. The remaining 400 are in packaging that includes a book mark advertising the Clear Spring School.

The parade begins at 2 PM and goes from the Carnegie Public Library through downtown Eureka Springs. Join us and cheer us on.

Make, fix, create, and allow for others to learn lifewise.


  1. Doug,
    Tony Seidl here, just quickly read what you were up to while working - it has been a few weeks since I look at the blog. You are doing such amazing work. I think that handing out these balsa planes is a brilliant move - it is like candy for the brain! My kids have been working (6th grade science) on their aquaponics project and composting barrel since January and the progress is the most engaging part. We are not completely successful with an end project but the process is what drives the kids, they forget what the final project is some times and just get lost in the hands on work! I think that this is where I want to go with my students and our curriculum. I think it will be a lot of work this summer but I am planning on creating something like what you are doing in my class - hands on project that they can work on during most of their time. Need to tie in standards but you inspire me with what you do - integrating creativity and curiosity in everything...even a parade hand-out! Great work!

  2. Tony, The balsa planes were a good move. Grandparents would ask, "May I have 5 of them? I have five grandchildren." So we went through them faster than I'd hoped, but put them in hands where they might do some good.

    A few years back our head of school asked us to observe in each other's classes, looking for evidence of fulfillment of the school's mission statement, which involves offering hands-on, hearts engaged learning. This simple model is useful for self assessment. Do I see the hands in use, and are the lessons engaging at the level of the heart.

    I realize that most teachers are also expected to perform according to externalized standards that I don't particularly regards as being relevant from a child development perspective.

    But look for means to engage the hands, and observe the results. Then encourage others to teach likewise.

    Our middle school students have also been working on hydroponics, involving a window of soda bottles, a pump, and an aquarium which is now home to a pregnant guppy and swordtails.

    It appears to be a relatively long term problem solving experience. And they are also loving it. Last week they cup hooks they used to attach the thing in the window sill came loose, as they had been only long enough to go through the sheetrock an not into wood. Water went everywhere, and their teacher loved it. She was hoping something would go wrong so the problem solving would continue.