Saturday, July 25, 2009

David Mas Masumoto

I have been reading an advance copy of David Mas Masumoto's new book Wisdom of the Last Farmer. As an advance copy, the publisher asked me not to publish reviews of it until the publication date of August 4. I've been thinking lately of the ways that physical location affects us. In a sense, the earth rises up through us much like the nutrients pass from the roots to the leaves and branches of a tree. Few Americans any longer have a sense of place. We have little sense of belonging to the earth or even to each other. Masumoto's book is a firm reminder of what we have let slip from our grasp. And it is also a worthy tribute to the hands: fixing, making, growing and caring for each other.

I have also been reading Matthew Crawford's book Shop Class as Soulcraft. Being on the wheels of a motorcycle, is another realm entirely, and yet within the craftsman's reach, there is power to transform. Most of us in our current culture have been uprooted. But it is through taking charge of the the things within our reach that we ourselves are created anew.

A third book on my reading table is Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax, MD. He states clearly and firmly what you have already known, and that all the early educational theorists from Comenius to Dewey expressed as well, "Kids need to experience the real world." So the question arises, what can we change? How can we put at least some small element of the real world into schools for the purpose of making school real? The wood shop. Every child should have the opportunity to make things that are real, lasting confirm their value and restore meaning.


  1. Doug-

    I am also reading Shopcraft as Soulcraft. I picked it up at Powells when I was in Oregon. I immediately thought of you, then say that he quotes you in Chapter 1 (or was it the introduction.) At any rate, I think this is such important work, restoring the making of things with hand tools.

  2. Faith, I was thinking of you the other day. I was asked to teach a box making class with 3 other box makers, one shaker, one bandsawn, and one birch bark. I hope your own use of birch bark is going well.

    Did you get information from the conference in Vancouver? Ron Hansen? let me know and I will forward stuff if needed. I'm still thinking about it.