Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I often look at the question, "where do we go from here?" As a craftsman I am inclined to lay out step-by-step... a sequence of operations that will lead us to the desired result. If the objective is a restoration of the hands in education, how do we get there? I call it the "affirmative action" for the hands. We are each damaged by the denigration of the hands. Without regard for race, sex, ethnicity and social or economic class, the stilling of hands in American classrooms, imposes a profound toll on each individual, his or her wisdom, intelligence and joy of life.

If you are reading this you probably know what I mean, and rather than have me go through all that again, I suggest your read deeply in the blog's other posts and begin examination of your own hands. As an example, I stepped up to the counter at the hardware store yesterday, and when the clerk asked me how many boards I needed, I looked down at my fingers and noted that my left hand was counting 3 forming slightly ahead of my speech, the expressions of my intellect. When you begin to notice your hands you begin to realize their profound participation in the management of thought.

As a craftsman, before I begin mapping the step-by-step in the making of a much desired object, I assess the materials available. They have a huge impact on the success of the work and its finished design. If I have the needed stuff, I get cutting. If not, I begin my search.

So what are materials of upcoming revolution in American education? I spent the last two weeks in their company. The weekend before last I was with the Northeast Woodworker's Association at Woodworkers Showcase. It is obvious that the woodworking clubs of America have both potential and interest. Last weekend, I was with CODA and the directors of craft associations from all over the US and Canada. And this week, Faith Clover, art educator from the University of Minnesota is sharing time in the wood shop. The most wonderful and expressive work often comes from challenging materials, and it is a challenge to consider how to assemble and align these elements into something of beauty, utility and joy.

That's when a woodworker gets into joinery. Today I am going to demonstrate cutting dovetails for the 5th and 6th grade students. When they go to Old Washington next week, I want them to notice things, and dovetails are one of the things that will tell them that someone who cared about quality and lasting value was there before, investing himself or herself through applied skill and loving attention in making the world a more meaningful place. If we want our children to become such children and then such adults, they must be able to imagine themselves as such. Woodshop and engagement in crafts is essential.

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