Thursday, February 27, 2020

a new favorite

I take photos of the Clear Spring Students at work in the woodshop, and occasionally a new one shows up that serves particularly well to illustrate a particular value of woodworking. This is one, showing intense concentration. It also shows the development of skill. The idea of a child with a sharp knife might frighten some. But the boy is proud of his work.

Make, fix, create, and adjust education so that others learn lifewise.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Beginning to make foot stools

Yesterday my high school class began making foot stools from white oak. Two inch thick white oak will be used to make the legs. To get familiar with the wood and the processes of traditional woodworking I passed out hands planes so the students and their teacher could get their muscles and minds into the work.

My lower middle school students glued up blanks  from cherry and walnut to begin turning plates on the lathe, and my elementary school students finished planters to used for starting a garden.

My assistant Curtis took a scrap of white oak home from making legs for the footstools. He and his sons counted over 100 annual rings.

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

Sunday, February 23, 2020

if we were...

If we were to build a new school from scratch to resemble the way children actually learn, it would bear little resemblance to the public schools of today with 30 same age kids put in sterile manageable classrooms. Instead, it would resemble the Clear Spring School where we have over 40 years practicing and refining our educational model.

If we were to build a new school or university to teach adults the way adults learn best, it would not look much like the universities of today. Instead, it would resemble the Clear Spring School, for certainly, we all learn alike, and learn best and to greatest lasting effect from doing real things. My quote in Matthew Crawford's books Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the World Beyond your Head makes that point.
“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.”
The photo shows our students joyfully crossing the small bridge my students and I built last year to connect the school with our new hands-on learning center where my new woodshop is located.

This next week I have an editor coming from Fine Woodworking Magazine to photograph an article we've been working on about box making. I'll also have him briefly in the Clear Spring woodshop to  take pictures of our kids, learning in the manner they (and we) love best.

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

Friday, February 21, 2020

take a break, do something

I was contacted by a writer wanting to contribute to this blog on the subject of safe things to allow your child to do with digital devices while you take a slight, necessary break from the demands of parenting. Children take and need a lot of attention. Parents do need some time for themselves. And so, many parents use their digital devices to alleviate parenting concerns.

There are serious concerns with toddlers and screen time, also, in that research has proven a number of undesirable and even damaging results. The following report is only one bit of research among many.

Screen time is linked to poor social adjustment, childhood obesity and other unwanted effects, and while we have these delusions that digital technology is making our children smart, perhaps we should not allow ourselves to be deceived. Google makes us feel smart also, as we race from one site to another retaining very little in actual mind.

There are reasons to stay engaged in the real world and for us to use tools to help our children remain engaged in reality. I told the writer that as the author of Making Classic Toys that Teach, I had other ideas beyond iPhones and iPads for occupying children while their parents take a break.

Making Classic Toys that Teach is about a lot more than just making toys. It is also about the life and contributions of Kindergarten inventor Friedrich Froebel and his philosophy of learning, that applies to toddlers and even to their parents or grandparents. We all learn best when we are doing real things.

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

Thursday, February 20, 2020

measuring stuff

A friend asked, "How do I teach kids to measure stuff?" The assistance I have is that our elementary school students are taught the use of rulers in their regular classes. Their teachers ask them to measure stuff.  It's part of math, and to have children running around the classroom with rulers observing and measuring the length, breadth and thickness of things is a good thing. Similar exercises should be common in every school. In our case, students also have the opportunity to see that measuring things is important in wood shop, sewing and in the arts. Measuring is important in math comprehension and student confidence.

Yesterday one of my 8th grade students was measuring the inside dimensions of a frame and stated confidently, "Nineteen and five-eighths inches." I felt joy. Her measurement was exact.

I also felt joy with our Kindergarten class as they made "flag poles."

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

super heroes

On Wednesday my kindergarten students finished their super heroes. Today I'm packing a shipment of props to send to my publisher, Blue Hills Press for my Guide to Woodworking With Kids. It will go to press next month and be available in May.

In my at home wood shop, I'm assembling boxes.

What more can I say? We learn best and to greatest lasting effect when we learn hand-on and by doing real things. Through woodworking children can be of service to family, community and self and gain in intelligence and character by doing so.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

in comparison

My wife, Jean alerted me to this furniture company, Palettes by Winesberg that might serve as an example of American industry at its best. They have zero waste, and source all their fine hardwoods from their own forest. This would not be found to be the case under most circumstances.

When you invest in quality American products, you invest also in the quality of our nation. Is that so difficult to grasp? The screenshot from their website shows the entire operation except the forest from which their furniture is made.

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