Monday, June 06, 2011

what to do?

Just in case you don't have a shop with tools, or any tools at all, there are things you can do to energize your creative self and explore the feelings that arise as you develop skill. Frank Rosenow's sailor's classic, the Ditty Bag Book, a guide for sailors could serve as the starting point for personal transformation from idle consumer to skilled craftsman. I discovered this book through a recent review in Wooden Boat magazine.

Ditty Bags are small bags in which sailors keep their important small tools for sail mending and sewing related fixing and mending on the ship or boat. As you can see from the cover, ditty bags themselves were often opportunities for creative craftsmanship. This book, small enough to fit in a ditty bag, gives you all you need to know to make ditty bags of your own, and build the skills necessary to do innumerable wonderful things related to your boat. For instance, stitched-on leather chafing gear is far more beautiful and interesting than rubber hose. No boat? Why would you let that stop you? Make a bag first, and stitch your way toward having the skills and confidence necessary for building a boat later.

The Rebellion of an Innovation Mom is a Princeton professor's answer to Tiger Mothering. While our children are being over-scheduled, and literally driven from one parental imposed activity to another, free time is being recognized as essential to innovation.
Remember that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to follow their passions.

Can we really imagine kids who have done absolutely everything expected of them both in and out of school being willing to ignore their college courses and their parents’, teachers’, and coaches’ expectation to suddenly pursue their own path?
I always have interesting conversations with my teacher friends, and a party on the Osage Creek last night was an opportunity for a brief conversation with a friend who is working as a teacher's aide. She said that how things are not working is a common topic for conversation amongst teachers in our local public schools. But the teachers, she says are "jaded and philosophical" about it. "The pendulum swings," they say. "First, the administration pushes this way and then that." We know that many of the pushes made by administration are in response to governmental regulations and the latest fads among politicians. Teachers as a result, are beaten down and hesitant to try new things, only to face criticism and disciplinary action. Can it be any surprise that many choose to leave the teaching profession within three to five years?

There are interesting changes that can come best from below. Administrative discipline cannot stop teachers from adopting an interest in the strategic implementation of the hands. Subtle things can be done that quiet the mind, and engage students in the classroom, even if they require sneaking pipe cleaners and playdough and other kinds of ditty into student hands. Teachers, try it. If you get caught, explain it. If that doesn't work, send your administrator to me and I'll try to explain it for you.

Make, fix and create.


  1. I'd like to give some administrators a one way ticket to Arkansas.

  2. We have plenty of administrators already in Arkansas. They have sets of problems most of us can't imagine, so it may be unfair for me to be so harsh. But if you can bring them to the blog, I'll have a chat with them.

  3. I have shared this blog with several people in my district. It has provided impetus for conversations about how to better our own students' learning. The next step is for me to get my science/woodworking/gardening program up and running and improve the lives of as many youngsters as possible- like you are! As of now, our administration thinks highly of the concepts involved with hands-centered learning. Time (and money) will tell if I can get something like this going for our town. i should know soon.

  4. Chris, I look forward to hearing more about your progress.