Monday, March 08, 2010

Home from Dayton

I had a long day yesterday completing my box making class for 43 Western Ohio Woodworkers and then flying back to Arkansas. A canceled flight and waiting on standby brought additional stress, so it is good to be home.

In the photo above, I'm pointing to my simple fix for a big error while cutting miter key slots. It is often a challenge working with tools that are not your own, and making do with what you've got. But mistakes when teaching are an effective tool for gaining and keeping student attention.

It is also interesting to work with a class that is so interested in the subject material. Working with kids, they are sometimes not sure if they are interested or not, so you have to work harder for their attention on that count alone, and with students being well versed in rapid fire use of consumer electronics and most accustomed in its use, it is a particular challenge to grab their attention. Standing in front of a class as a real human being one competes with a panoply of made up Hollywood characterizations, and it is hard to compete. My mother, as a kindergarten teacher had noted the effect of rapid fire children's programming on her students' ability to pay attention in class, and that was thirty years ago that that started. It has gotten steadily worse. Now we have much more challenging minds to gather into learning.

One of the things that engage all human beings is narrative. Is there a story taking place in the classroom. My having made a mistake in my cut on the corners of the box, engaged, (as it always does) my students in wondering, "what will he do now?" "Will he fix it, and how?" And so the box was left to be auctioned off for the club scholarship fund. It is now a narrative work, telling the story of our two days in Dayton, and having recorded both an error and fix, though it will be a story only those present will be able to read.

More photos of the workshop can be found here.

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