Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today, sort of in the wood shop...

SketchUp is a challenging but powerful 3-D modeling program and I am making progress in learning it. Like many things, it is not just a matter of the mind knowing how it works, but also of the hands knowing how it works. Scrolling images through the illusion of 3 dimensions on a flat screen is a bit different from working in 2-D. At this point, I've learned to create objects and then fine tune and edit them so they fit together just like parts cut from real wood. Sorry, however. It is not as much fun as making things from real wood. My editor thinks it is a great way to check and confirm measurements. I will agree. But it is also less forgiving than working with real wood and the finished product is not a finished product. No tactile response rewards in working with keyboard and mouse.

 Today I met with the class from the Clinton School of Public Service to talk about the hands, community, craftsmanship, education and democracy. We will had lunch at Clear Spring School, I got to play tour guide and then wood shop instructor. My students from the Clinton School are shown in my pickup truck and got some time in the wood shop making sloyd trivets and flip cars.

My visitors were surprised by how small and personal Clear Spring School is, and that it is not at all representative of the general trend in education. In Arkansas public schools have been pushed into consolidation to squeeze more kids into larger schools, with more class offerings having less value, and in which students, and their personal inclinations and love of learning are squelched.

Some important points to remember about education are as follows:

Begin with the interests of each child.
Move from the known to the unknown,
From the simple to the complex,
From the easy to more difficult,
And from the concrete to the abstract.

One thing educators seem to have forgotten is the circular relationship between the concrete and abstract which I have illustrated in the drawing below.


  1. Anonymous5:34 AM

    Great way to get the idea of working with the hands out to a different audience.


  2. Anonymous2:46 PM

    I appreciate the fact that the school gave students (and us) an enjoyable learning experience. Thank you very much.

  3. Jeerawat, It was a pleasure meeting you and sharing some time in the woodshop.


  4. Anonymous1:59 PM

    Thanks Doug! We really enjoyed the school, the natural setting, the wholesome healthy food, and the woodworking experience! Valerie