Sunday, September 26, 2021

Good as new

Yesterday I mentioned repairing a mirror that had fallen and come apart at the joints. This is what it looks like now with the joints re-glued. The  outer frame is cherry and the inner frame walnut, inlaid with strips of cherry, walnut and mahogany. It's now ready to hang for another 40+ years. 

In the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City there's carved Quan-yin in their Chinese exhibit  that's a thousand years old. Inside a secret compartment the curators found a scroll with the names of the craftsmen who carved it. They are gone but what they did has not been forgotten.

I'll not claim there to be anything special about my work. But things that have lasting meaning will endure, and the meaning in this case reflects a partnership between friends. I made it in the hopes it would last, and my friends who have  cared for it for these years made sure it did.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, September 25, 2021

a surprise inside

Yesterday a friend returned a mirror I'd made in 1978 for repair. The line from which it was suspended had broken. The mirror fell onto a table and then onto the floor, causing three corners of the frame to break loose. 

In taking it apart I found a surprise inside. I'd used a page from our local Times-Echo newspaper as a backing for the mirror and there was a photo showing a candidate for Arkansas Governor visiting our city and a good friend Lucilla Garrett looking on. The candidate for governor is one others might recognize and not just in the state of Arkansas. 

The mirror is reglued, reassembled and readied to hang for another 40 years. I left the paper inside to be discovered again.

Make, fix and create... 

Friday, September 24, 2021

look and see.

When I was in first grade nearly every other child in the US read the exact same books in school, Dick and Jane.  I remember one particular line to this day. "Look, look, see spot run." And there is nothing more important than getting children to look and see, unless it's also to touch and become engaged.

I've written before about Admiral Beaufort's wonderful scale that allowed common British seamen to become engaged in making accurate scientific observations and thus becoming a part of science. 

On Wednesday we installed a game camera at the Clear Spring School to observe the comings and goings of bats that nest in a vent under the eaves of one of our classroom buildings. We also installed a long plywood box underneath the nesting area to be able to measure the amount of guano produced. I have no way of knowing how many poops a small brown bat can produce in a day, but now we have a means to measure. After just one day the 40-50 bats nesting during the day produced well over 100 small poops.

Yesterday I had an interview with an editor at Independent School Magazine interested in my 20 years of teaching at the Clear Spring School for their section on School News. A 300 word article is not going to tell much about the Clear Spring School, but a photo or two might help and I'll be selecting some to send today. 

One of the benefits of wood shop is facilitating the advancement of science by getting students to look and see for themselves and to develop critical thinking skills. Having a simple frame of reference for such things as wind velocity (Thanks Admiral) or poop, thanks to our plywood box, can bring students to a better understanding of science so that instead of science being abstract and disconnected from our lives, we become a part of what advances our human understanding. It's what we learned from Dick and Jane. Look, see.

Make, fix and create...

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

the ARC

I received copies of the Advanced Review Copy (ARC) of my new book in the mail yesterday and took one by to a local mentor and sent another off to a friend in Berryville. The cover of the published volume may change and the last chapter received serious editing and addition after the print version of the ARC went to press. The purpose of the ARC is to get various reviewers and distributors on board with promotion of the book.

In the woodshop at the Clear Spring School we've been at work making things needed for campus improvement. Yesterday we made sorting lids for recycling, and flag holders for class flags (more may be explained about that later.) Today we'll make book holders  of a new design that will be used in our school library.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Serial Position Effect

Serial Position Effect refers to an important principle in psychology having to do with how and if we remember things, and attention to it can have profound effect on the effectiveness of teaching.

In wood working how we break down things into steps can have an affect on how the steps are remembered, and so in teaching wood shop whether with kids or adults, how we offer necessary information can make all the difference in the world.

In a list of items, steps or facts we have a greater ability to remember the first things and the last, and a greater tendency to forget the things in the middle. Test yourself in this. Head to the grocery store with a list in your head of things you need to pick up and then see which things have been forgotten, which in all likelihood will be things in the middle.

Remembering the first things on the list is called the primary effect, and the things mentioned last are called the regency effect. By avoiding overloading the middle steps in an order of operations can be better recalled. This can be help for a teacher planning lessons. Arrange things in groups of two or three ad suggest o the student, "ask me for your next steps when you've done the first two."

Another way teachers use serial position effect is to offer the most important facts or information first and last with things of lesser importance occupying the middle ground.

I was taking with a friend this morning about the challenge of training employees to be effective educators. They may not even think of themselves in that role. But they are, especially in sales of things that are complex and sometimes daunting to the user. 

Teaching and marketing are a whole lot alike and the  principles of Educational Sloyd can fit. Make sure your explanations for things fit the prior experience of the customer. Getting to know our customer and their prior experiences can help you to tailor your presentation of information to fit their needs. Build from the known to the unknown, from the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. And sometimes what the customer wants is not all that much complex information, but information that is tailored to their framework of understanding, along with the assurance that you care bout their success in the use of your product.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, September 17, 2021

Inspired to Make: Stories of the Onkwehón:we - Stephen Jerome

Shared by Lee Valley 
Make, fix and create...

Stand aside. Step back

This week at the Clear Spring School we began going over the rules of woodshop. We have a number of new students so going over the rules is important, and one of my returning students noted a new rule that should be added. When someone is doing something, stand back, out of the way.

Yesterday we finished the last round of edits to my new book before it gets turned over to the copy editor. I'll have one more chance to look at it after that, just before it goes to press. My editor said that they have a tight window of opportunity for the copy editor to do their work. So it's time for me to follow the new woodshop rule, stand aside, step back. And that means I do other things. I went to the wood shop to apply Danish oil to boxes. 

The Wisdom of Our Hands is a book I envisioned twenty years ago and it's completion is finally in sight thanks to Linden Press. If I'm lucky it will sell well and make a mark on how we see education and how we see ourselves. I should receive advanced review copies of the book in the mail today.

Yesterday I was pleased to welcome two great art teachers to my Clear Spring School Woodshop. Robert Dancik and Sarah Doremus are our resident artists at ESSA for the month in a trial program to expand our outreach into the education community. They've been working with students in the public schools and in our own ESSA studios as well. You can learn about their work through these links:

We expect to welcome larger cohorts of artists in the future to collaborate and learn together and make use of the campus housing we finished last year.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, September 13, 2021

A musical interlude

I was reading this morning about Noel Gilbert, my violin teacher from when I was in first or second grade. I was thinking of him due to the important role that music plays in our lives and that the sounds of craftsmanship are not that very different from music. In woodworking there are textures and lines and punctuation points that help establish rhythm and meaning.

 When I was in second grade my mother took me to audition for violin lessons with the director of the Memphis Symphony orchestra. I remember the audition in which he asked me to sing and then examined my mother’s fingers and my own. He noted that my pitch was OK and that my long slender fingers might be useful on a violin.

The violin upon which I was to play had been my mother’s when she was a child. I took lessons for only a short time but remember to this day as I played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and was accompanied by the teacher on a larger violin and his son on a cello. They made beautiful music around me as their parts wove in and out and surrounded me. 

Much later when I’d first moved to Eureka Springs, there was a woman learning to play the violin. Downtown Eureka Springs is like a canyon, a narrow street with two story buildings on both sides. A set of good fingers on the neck and a sensitive hand on the bow during the late hours when the stores are closed and the tourists have gone back to their motels, creates a haunting sound that one would consider sublime. 

The screeches made by the fresh hand on the violin was not that. I admired her bravery under the circumstances. Others may have said something critical to her for I never heard her play again. There are gifts granted to the young in such things. One is the indiscriminate mind that allow for actual play. 

There are challenges in learning to play the guitar after becoming a lover of Segovia. What we do in music or in crafts may not come out as pure as our hopes or what we might see in our mind’s eye. And we can soon tire of having disappointed ourselves. There may be a very good reason why the word "play" or "playing" is associated with our engagement in music whether we’re just listening or attempting to play on our own. To play is always to give oneself over to a process where the exacting nature of the results cannot be known. So play. Let your own sense of playfulness without regard for the screeching sounds you make lead you forward in your craft.

Today children return to classes at the Clear Spring School. If ou want to know about my violin teacher Noel Gilbert, you can find him the Tennessee Encyclopedia

Make, fix and create...