Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Care vs. being good at.

My 8th and 9th grade students started work today on a trebuchet. They had been asking to make one and I agreed that if they came up with the plan and if all in the class was interested, it could be made in woodshop. I wanted the kids to give special attention to precision in the cutting of parts, so we had a discussion before starting. I asked them what someone would see and understand when they saw the quality of their work... The first answer, "that we're good," is not the answer I was looking for. Being good at something may imply that skill is a gift, arrived at without effort. That is almost never the case. More important, I think, is for one's work to express care. Is it "careful" and caring? Was it done thoughtlessly or mindfully with deep concern for the quality of the results?

Being good at something is often perceived as a stopping point in one's growth. Caring is an exercise for which there are no limits.

In the photos above and below, students are fitting intersecting parts, using a saw and chisel to make a lap joint.


  1. "deep concern for the quality of the results".........I have only had one wood shop student this year that cared like that, I am sorry to say.
    The majority of the parents that I meet fall into two categories....the ones that do nothing to help their children, and the ones that do too much for their children...........but every once in awhile there is a parent that gets it right.....and those young men and women are a joy to teach.

  2. I think many parents are overwhelmed by their responsibilities. I have a number of really good kids, but the ones who seem to demonstrate the most caring are those whose parents do, too. I think my conversation today should be helpful to some in setting their goals for themselves, and may lay out a path for their greater success. But you have to choose just the right moment to have that kind of conversation.

  3. Anonymous3:49 AM

    Do you suppose that they meant that they had done it well, built it right? At their age, language may not be that precise.


  4. Anonymous10:43 PM

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