Wednesday, July 15, 2009

chapter one, A Brief Case for Useful Arts

It has been an exciting day in the woodshop. My students now have boxes ready to apply hinges. As shown in the photo above, Pete cut miter key slots in the sides of his box to give greater strength and lasting integrity to the corner joints.

Learning new things is natural to humanity. Human beings strive for learning opportunities. So why is it that we fail to engage our children in schools? Could it be something in the way we teach? We look for outcomes satisfactory to the teachers, parents, administrators and even tax payers but forget that the most important outcomes are the feelings of tangible accomplishment that students feel in response to their efforts. After a time, they learn that effort is disassociated with the kinds of feelings they most crave.

I got something in the mail today that made this day special for me. Matthew B. Crawford sent a signed copy of his book Shop Class as Soulcraft. I am deeply honored to quote the first lines from 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.
-- Doug Stowe Wisdom of the Hands (blog) October 16, 2006

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