Tuesday, November 02, 2010

child as...

Mario sent the following quote about US president Jimmy Carter from a Splintered History of Wood
"When I tire of the computer screen, I can walk twenty steps to my woodshop and immerse myself in my current project," Carter says. And why does an octogenarian, financially secure, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Emory University professor, Carter
Center (Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.) leader, and prolific author continue to make sawdust?

"What we need in our lives is an inventory of factors that never change. I think that skill with one's own hands—whether it's tilling the soil, building a house, making a piece of furniture, playing a violin, or painting a painting—is something that doesn't change with the vicissitudes of life. [Woodworking is] a kind of therapy, but it's also a stabilizing force in my life—a total rest for my mind." -President Jimmy Carter
Today, I have been thinking about the child as craftsman metaphor and what it contributes to our understanding of education. Nearly the same point could be made, through "the child as athlete", or "the child as musician," or "the child as builder," or "the child as farmer," or "the child as dancer," or "the child as..." and here I name all the wonderful human occupations that reflect the full range of serious adult human intelligences that are represented in Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind.

Today I am reading the latest issue of Wooden Boat (Nov/Dec 2010) and it contains an article about the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito, CA. Its founder, Myron Spaulding (1905-2000) designed and built his first wooden boat at the age of 16, and in addition to designing, building and sailing yachts, had a parallel career as a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. It is typical for healthy full dimensioned human beings to have a wide range of interests, and capabilities. Just as Jimmy Carter's wood shop is only a few feet from his computer on which he corresponds and manages a full range of other important projects, human beings including children must be encouraged in their full dimensions.

I am attempting again to turn my attention to the idea of a Beaufort Scale of educational assessment, and my first point is that it has no similarity to the artificial construct of standardized testing. Rather than only measuring math skills, logic and reading skills, it is concerned with joy of learning and the full range of human intelligences... the child as craftsman and athlete and more. It is a frame through which to bear direct witness to real learning as expressed joy. To see Archimedes sprinting naked in unrestrained enthusiasm for his discovery, is an expression of joy. It represents the top of the scale, and is what parents, teachers and students should be aiming toward in creating an educational model.
In the photo above, you can see the flipping story stick I use in setting up the router table for routing recesses for knife hinges to fit. In the trial fit at above, the hinge still protrudes too far. When I square the end of the routed groove with a chisel, I'll have a perfect fit.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Story sticks have saved quite a few of my projects from ending up in the firewood pile.