Monday, November 23, 2009

What's stuff doing to kids?

Australian wood shop teacher Richard Bazeley is pondering the questions, "How does the experience of the handmade as opposed to the manufactured item become integrated in the mind of the child? What value is the handmade object in the lives of our students today?" I think this was answered in part by a comment from Stephanie on November 18.
It's amazing to see what kids so young are capable of doing. My son is 4 and a half and wants to help me. I'm putting together a little toolbox for him for Christmas. I want him to know that he can do may just take time and practice. Already, when looking at toy catalogs he now says "I want to make this" instead of "I want to buy this".
Does seeing and engaging with hand made objects inform a child of his or her own creative potential? And is this a better thing than for a child to engage with objects that can be neither fathomed nor fixed?

A friend of mine, Rima, grew up in Waldorf Schools and now travels between various Waldorf schools in the US and Canada teaching dance, and while I have not been able to find this particular quote from Rudolf Steiner, Rima says it reflects what were his beliefs: Children should only be introduced to technologies and objects that they can completely understand.

And so we are left with Richard's ponders... And this would be a great time for my readers to add to an interesting discussion. Please comment below.


  1. Doug, this is a very interesting concept. I'm afraid that most of our young people have no idea what "made by hand" even means, whether it be pens, desks, cabinets, or sorry to say, food. Only when they have the opportunity to make things by hand will they even understand the concept. By the way, I read the blog entry sent by Scrapwood Bob and the Trout Clan Blog. It was most frightening, but unfortunately, spot on. I came home this afternoon terribly depressed by that entry and the consequences. I fear for the future of my 3 (soon 4) grandchildren.

    You are absolutely on target with your philosophies and activities. We just need MORE examples of that...that's the only way we will turn this tide, and it is truly and uphill battle.

    Keep up the good work, Doug...


  2. A couple years ago I asked my high school students if they had anything in their homes that was "hand made". "I have that bowl I turned in wood shop," one said.

    But JD, we need not mourn. The compulsion to make will win out. My daughter turned me on to where I sell a few of my boxes. The enthusiasm among some of my daughter's age is incredible. She and some others at Columbia are planting community gardens. Lucy makes her own greeting cards with beautiful calligraphy and found materials.

    The glimpses of creativity to offer your grandchildren will go a very long ways... telling them that they have choices in how they participate in the world.