Sunday, November 04, 2018

When children explain

This link is to a TEDX talk in which the usefulness of children attempting to explain and teachers listening is discussed.

One of the values that woodworking presents arrives through children's explanations of what they need and what they want. I am reminded a bit of my time working in my father's hardware store and listening to the customers' attempts to explain what they need without their having developed the vocabulary to describe it. If I had a nickel for every time I heard "whats-it" or thingamajig, used I might have taken early retirement.

I am not attempting to make a big deal of it, but woodworking terminology is useful and colorful. How many times have you heard some person say, "That dovetails,"without them knowing how to cut one, recognize one, how it is used or useful or how it may actually differ from other joints. An impression is given when the term is used that things may fit together by some form of happenstance, but that is almost never the case.

It's hard to be measurably smart without having adequate vocabulary to express your intelligence to others, and the descriptive interchange that takes place in wood shop is useful in the development of language, culture and intellect. This may be particularly true when students are attempting to work on projects launched from their own interests, and of their own design. So just because a student's hands are at work, does not mean an absence of mind, even though many in the academic arena might ignorantly assume that's the case.

It is lovely fall in the Ozark Mountains. The photo is one from my collection, taken in our 11 acre woods.

Make, fix, and create...


  1. I watched the video of Eleanor Duckworth and was struck by the richness of the lesson about milk + chocolate syrup.

    What a brilliant device to engage students in 'real world' numeracy.

    I've started thinking about ways to give students 'little problems' to solve like this one. The kids I work with have zero persistence in solving problems.

    Woodworking is one way I think we can help students discover the joy of solving the little problems that always occur. The result is motivational - a box or object of their own design & creation . . . not an answer to some abstract/irrelevant question on a worksheet that has greater value for its ability to be easily graded than appreciated for its subtle reflection of what the student is thinking.


  2. Kim, schools sequester children from reality and the kids know it. But give them real things to do that allow them to be of service to their families and communities and we see different results, than when they are locked into a regime of artificial learning and artificialized measurement of learning.

    That may not be what educational policy makers have in mind. Would they rather have complaisant consumers or activated minds? Forgive me for being suspicious. But kids are capable of doing real things.

    One thing about wood working, is that it's real. And that interjection of reality into education, the kids find refreshing.