Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Friendship boxes and grandfathers...

I am on my way home from St. Louis and the ISACS accreditation review of John Burroughs School. John Burroughs is a very special place that still regards the practical arts as being important in the development of intellect and character in its students. I felt honored to be in the company of my fellows on the review team and be in the company of fellows in industrial technology education. John Burroughs is among the best of the best in its academic standards, so it was particularly meaningful that it still allows for practical arts among its many programs.

In the meantime JD spent some time with his grandchildren in his wood shop. John said,"The grandkids stayed with me this weekend and we made friendship boxes. They built and decorated them and were tremendously excited about the whole thing. Grandpa was in his glory :) Thanks for sharing that project...it's wonderful."

Plans for our Clear Spring School Friendship boxes can be found here or on the Fine Woodworking Website here.

It will take some time to restore manual arts to our nation's schools, but what better excuse can we find to take matters into our own hands than for grandfathers to share their love of woodworking with those they love most. On Thursday I leave for my weekend box making classes in Des Moines, Iowa.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Doug, maybe it is we grandfathers who have to turn the tide in re: our grandchildren who are in schools that devalue working with the hands. It's like most else...values are developed in the home. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge that the schools cannot do it all. Where are the parents and the homes???

    Thanks for all you do in re: this...

    With great respect,


  2. JD, schools cannot do it all, and developing an effective partnership between home and school is the overriding reason for the success of the Finnish school system.

    Cygnaeus and Salomon in Educational Sloyd, deliberately set out to establish the proper relationship between home and school. Without that we are handicapped. Sadly, these days in homes, too many parents don't quite get the necessity of scissors, glue, string, etc. It is so much easier to just turn on the screen. Good work on those boxes, kids.

    Back at you on the respect.

    On another subject, one of the music teachers at John Burroughs told me a French term for music that is simply what's happening. I was trying to tell him about the noises in wood shop. Can you tell me what that term was? I would like it spelled out for me to research, and would contact him, but don't have his email address.



  3. Doug, it is probably musique concrete...does that ring a bell? It is making music out of natural sounds...was a great movement in the early electronic music movement. Good stuff.

    I think we are all putting too much pressure on the schools and are abrogating responsibility of the family. Too many parents are just plopping their kids down in front of a screen. That was the beauty of my weekend with the kids. No screens, just wood, watching birds at the feeder, identifying them with my bird book, zeroing in with my grandpa's binoculars, and writing out words with my collection of fountain pens. The grandchildren were wonderfully curious, and it was EASY to gratify their curiosity. I fear that we as a society have lost that element of curiosity. It is really NOT difficult to engage them in meaningful activities...really!!! But you already know that :)

    OK, off MY soapbox!!!

    Enjoyed your article in the latest FW mag. What a wonderful publication.

    Hope your visit to Des Moines is a good one. I spent two wonderful years in Iowa City. Iowa is a great state, and you really CAN hear the corn grow in the summer :)


  4. Yes, Thanks. Musique concrete. Except that the concrete is not said the way we say it when the truck arrives.

    Children are actually quite easy to occupy if you have interesting things. Parents used to bring bags of things to entertain, but now just bring the iPhone. But then the French seem to do just fine simply asking the children to pay attention to what surrounds them. If you know bout musique concrete, and are willing to find your entertainment in what ever your surroundings are, then you will never be bored.