Wednesday, December 03, 2008

today in the woodshop...

As most of you may know, I have two wood shops to care for... One where I make boxes and small furniture and write books and articles about woodworking, and the other where I teach kids. In the wood shop at Clear Spring School, the students are working on toy cars for distribution at our local food bank and the 5th and 6th grade students are finishing sliding white oak book racks. At some point, I hope to get them interested in doing things to an exact design rather than using every project as an opportunity to do their own thing. (and cut corners) But that is clearly a thing that comes with maturity, and I won't hold my breath. At the moment, and at that age, they are quite ready to overlook the deficiencies in workmanship. As their teacher, I can point out the areas in which work can be improved and mention the reasons for it, but keeping the work fun and growth fun is part of the process.

I am reminded of a friend Glen, who felt a complete klutz in the wood shop. His father was an amateur woodworker and was critical of everything that Glen did that didn't measure up to his exacting standards. He badgered all the fun out of it. Part of the responsibility of a teacher is called discernment. You lead children toward excellence rather than pushing them. This is in keeping with the old saying, "you can't push a rope."

So the teacher's discernment is to know the progression in the development of wisdom, to observe the child's place in that process and to understand when to tug the child to the next level. It can take patience. Even more importantly, it takes care.

This week my home shop will also become a teaching place as I do something new. I have two woodworkers coming for personal instruction in box making. This is a first time thing, that I may repeat if there is interest and if it all works out as planned.


  1. I was always one of the girls who wouldn't follow a pattern, but insisted on creating my own thing.

  2. There is value in both. It is like the difference between just making things in the kitchen and following a recipe. Sometimes the recipe gives better results.

  3. Anonymous6:17 PM


    You're working with pretty young kids at Clear Spring. What they manage to do is pretty amazing. Have fun with the folks coming to your shop.