Thursday, July 30, 2009

the wonders of chalk

John Deal sent a link to a blog posting on the "ultimate irony of college education." It seems that many of the maintenance people who have kept our college campuses so beautiful are retiring and colleges are having great difficulty finding skilled workers to take their place. The even more ultimate irony (if there could be such a thing) is Yale. They have a hand carved stone campus but are not teaching any of their students to carve stone. You and I know that the early educators were right about the ways that the use of the hands builds character and understanding, and that students will not have a sense of the dignity and value of labor without their own hands having been engaged in skilled creative processes. It would be nice if college administrators would state a collective "oops." If students and faculty have no knowledge of what it takes to carve stone, neither will they have a clear sense of the value and beauty of that which surrounds them. You can say, that they are "out of touch." The blog posting can be found here.

In the meantime, on a more hands-on subject, Sam Maloof is featured on the cover of Fine Woodworking this month. It is a very rare circumstance for Fine Woodworking to make such a deliberate tribute to a craftsman. Ironically, this morning, I was showing the Clear Spring School wood shop to a prospective ESSA teacher, Les Casteel, who had taken classes with Sam Maloof and spent a week learning from him in his studio. Les told of Sam's love of chalk. He said that chalk can be used, not only to draw on wood, but also to lubricate screws and to highlight areas needing additional sanding. In the photo above, you can see the use of chalk on wood. Lines going across the grain and highlighted by chalk are saw marks still needing to be sanded away. The chalk is a great teaching tool to help beginners see what the trained eye will have already noticed.

On another subject FedEx delivered a review copy of my new DVD which I will watch later in the day. It is scheduled for release in late September or early October.

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