Saturday, December 15, 2018

toys again...

Readers asked about the kids making the delivery of toys to the food bank. This year all the students were tightly scheduled for rehearsals for the holiday program, and so I rather unceremoniously made the delivery alone. In the past I would take a group of 1st and second grade students with me to make the delivery. But the program, attended by family and friends is also important.

The class of 5th and 6th grade students shown took the lead in this year's project. All the other classes joined in and I could not resist making a few myself.

We have about 9 making days before Christmas.

Today I hope to clean shop.

Make, fix and create...


Friday, December 14, 2018

tiny toys

Yesterday I delivered toys made by our students to the local food bank to be given to kids. Two men were cooking the community meal when I arrived and they were excited to see what our students had done.  They treated my arrival like I was a celebrity of some sort. Our students were proud of their work  and I felt proud of what they had pitched in and done.

When children have the opportunity to do real things in benefit to their community, they grow in character as well as in intellect.

This year's toy making was a bit different from last year in that we made very tiny cars and trucks using wheels cut from dowels. The tiny vehicles are fun. and can ride in a shirt pocket.

Make, fix and  create...

Thursday, December 13, 2018

ESSA enrollment open now. Sign up for classes.

Enrollment in ESSA spring and summer classes opened yesterday and there were a flurry of signups taking advantage of a 10% early enrollment discount. Go to this site: http://essa-art.org/workshops/ You will find classes of interest in nearly every area of the arts and crafts. The printed copy of the catalog will also be available soon. I offer classes in box making.

Today I will deliver toys to the local food bank that our Clear Spring School students have made, and our students will perform in the annual holiday program. Then for me, I'll have a few days to catch up on things around the house and in my woodworking business. We are also going full steam into the editing of my book about woodworking with kids.

A friend noted his use of "21 Reasons Why School Woodshops are important in the 21st Century" in a speech to his local Toast master's Club. That paper, distributed by the Ne England Association of Woodworking Teachers can be found here: http://dougstowe.com/educator_resources/neawt21reasons.pdf I had helped write it.

A few years back I had done an article for Fine Woodworking called "A better way to build boxes." Since then I've taught many classes and further refined my techniques, so I'm working on another article for the same magazine along the same lines. Repetition is the mother of invention and refinement.

This fall, I made 80 engraved boxes to be sent as holiday gifts by the Chancellor at the University of Arkansas. I heard from a friend that her's had been delivered.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The good, the bad and the ugly

Years ago, a spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood was titled, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. A similar title could be applied to modern technology. It may be more destructive than bad guys with guns, in that it may leave us mindless and brain-dead. (is that why zombie movies are so popular???) Having access to information is not the same as being smart. Having had experience and a way to apply and translate information is essential.

Last week I attended the furniture review panel for 5th year architecture students at the E. Faye Jones School of Architecture at the U of A. The students had been assigned some selected readings during the course of the semester, one of which was Matthew Crawford's book, Shop Class as Soulcraft. Crawford had used a quote from my blog as the opening to Chapter one.
"In Schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged." --Wisdom of the Hands blog post of October 16, 2006
 We could on the one hand, allow children to sit around all day on social media. Given the boring nature of conventional schooling, for many children that might be preferred.  They'd not mind sitting around all day checking their Instagram accounts. The alternative is to give them real things to do, that offer meaning and growth. Wood shop is messy. It requires more band-aids than conventional classes. It can be noisy. But it can also be expansive of the child's understanding of the real world.

In the German language new words are created by tacking one on the end of the other. One of my favorite long German words is Fingerspitzengef├╝hl.  Meaning finger tip feeling, "it describes a great situational awareness, and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully. It can also be applied to diplomats, bearers of bad news, or to describe a superior ability to respond to an escalated situation." It comes to the child from having both Wissenshaft, and Kentniss, two forms of knowledge, one having to do with real experience and the other derived from external sources, and the guidance to use those two forms of knowledge in problem solving.

Sadly, the experiment involving the widespread implementation of digital technologies is too widespread to fight like gunslingers at the OK corral. We will attend to the wounded, by giving them real things to do. For example, a gift certificate to ESSA, the Eureka Springs School of the Arts might be a great gift for this holiday season. If you want to support either ESSA or the Clear Spring School, there are opportunities to give in the rescue of others. Scholarship support is needed at both schools. Any amount will be wisely used. essa-art.org or clearspringschool.org. In making your pledge, mention the wisdom of the hands.

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




Monday, December 10, 2018

screen time

Last night the Television show 60 Minutes did an important expos├ę on the effects of screen time. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/groundbreaking-study-examines-effects-of-screen-time-on-kids-60-minutes/
Screen time is having major effects on brain development in children.  The American Council of Pediatrics has long warned about the detrimental effects. 60 Minutes described a major study to better determine its detrimental effect.

One thing they pointed out was that it has long been assumed that on-screen learning would augment and enhance real world learning. What they found was that's not the case. There is no direct carryover from screen time into the ability to do real things. For example, stacking two dimensional blocks on screen give no ability to stack the real things.

As I've mentioned before, there is no substitute for engaging children in the real world.

There is danger at hand. First, it was noted that screen time is purposefully addictive and drives dopamine production to give a sense of pleasure that may not be as readily found in real world activities, particularly for those addicted to screen effects. Secondly, it was noted that screen time is directly associated with depression and anxiety.

The simple point, is to unplug the device and spend real time in the real shop, with real tools, learning to do real things of benefit to family, community and self.

Anaxagoras had said that Man is the wisest of all animals because he  has hands. He did not say we are wise because of Google.

I'm not sorry to be so blunt. With the digital revolution we launched ourselves and our children into a vast experiment about which we are just beginning to learn the results and they don't look good.

Make, fix, create. Turn off the instruments of destruction and get thee and thy children to the wood shop.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Arkansas Made

I am on the cover of "Arkansas Made" magazine that just came out. It is an annual publication produced by Arkansas Times and sponsored by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

The article is about the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. I hope it brings attention to the school, which is an absolutely wonderful place. Our wonderful city of Eureka Springs is also featured as one of the Art Cities of Arkansas. Come see us.

In the next few days the 2019 calendar of classes will be going online. If you are looking for a holiday gift that will give a lifetime of pleasure, think "Gift Certificate." Hundreds of folks have had their lives enriched by experiences at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Thousands more have been touched by the arts of Eureka Springs.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 07, 2018

U of A woodworking

Yesterday I attended a furniture review panel at the Faye Jones School of Architecture as a guest. Fifth year architecture students displayed and discussed the chairs, lamps and mallets they had made in the department of architecture wood shop.

All of the chairs were different, and all of the student presentations outlined their growth and the growth of their ideas. It was noted by all that it was challenging to go from the world of flat design to the realm of three dimensional object. A demonstration of that is crucial to an understanding that architects must have in order to be prepared to provide necessary detail to contractors. Chairs seem to have been a perfect exercise as the students contemplated going from their own bodies to what they wanted the chairs to look like and how they wanted them to feel.

I hope to find other ways to be of service at the U of A, as I feel that I've made friends there.

Volume IV of Arkansas Made came out this week as I discovered when I made a delivery to the Crystal Bridges Museum Gift Store. I am on the cover as part of an article about the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Arkansas Made Magazine is published by the Arkansas Times in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. It is an annual publication.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my students will be making tiny cars.

Make, fix and create...