Tuesday, May 08, 2018

whittling and the knife

Yesterday in wood shop, I went over knife safety with my first through 6th grade students. They leave for a two night, three day camping trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma this AM, and using knives in whittling is a traditional part of the Clear Spring School camping experience.

The Sloyd knife was an important part of Educational Sloyd that was not adopted in all countries. I explained that in an article in Woodwork Magazine a few years back.  Please take time to read it, as it gives a historical perspective on the educational use of the knife. http://www.dougstowe.com/educator_resources/94lookingback-jkjl.pdf

It is better that you to read it there than here, so I will not need to repeat myself.

At first some of my students did not want to whittle, as there were other things they wanted to do in wood shop. When I had showed them the proper technique, they did not want to quit. The thing I discovered was that if I put my arms around the students one at a time, and we hold the knife and the whittling stick together so they see very clearly the angle of the blade and feel through my hands, the required motions of their own hand, arm and knife, they are soon ready to go off on their own, having learned things I could not describe, and that seeing me do apart from them, they would not have understood. To see something done is an abstraction. To do something with your own hands is concrete. So this is an example of "moving from the concrete to the abstract," one of the principles of Educational Sloyd.

The same approach can work in teaching students to turn on the lathe. Stand behind the student with your arms around and your hands holding the tool over the student's hands. The student will more quickly grasp the feel of turning.

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

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