Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Box making at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship...

There are still openings in my 2 week summer class Creative Box Making at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. I am excited about this class. Not only will it take me to a beautiful part of the US that I haven't visited in many years, it will offer a full two weeks with a select group of 12 students to work and to think outside the box. We will develop new designs, new skills and new techniques and push our own limits in creative box making. In most woodworking classes, students are encouraged to make very specific designs, copoies of the teacher's own work. In my classes, I encourage students to feel confident in coming up with designs of their own. Students will not only gain skills in the making, but also skills in the designing of beautiful and useful boxes.

I got an email from a student enrolled in one of my classes. He asked, "Can you provide a cutting list prior to the class?" But how could I offer a cut list for a box that is still germinating in the student's own hands? From beautiful wood, and personal inspiration, we will make boxes. The dates are June 18-29 and class size is limited to 12 students.

Oscar Lovell Triggs wrote in 1902, advocating a new form of education centered on industrial arts:
The tendency is still to create a culture representative of caste. Notwithstanding the modifications in the scope of the school forced by the industrial democracy, such as are signified by technical, commercial, and manual-training departments in the midst of cultural studies, it must be acknowledged that the leisure class theory of education is still in the ascendent. The benefits of even the public schools, supported though they are by general taxation, accrue to an intellectual aristocracy.

The divorce between the hand and the brain, which is destructive of any genuine integral education, continues in full force. The time has come for schools whose aim shall be to serve the needs of modern industrial democracy, that shall build upon that fine instinct for workmanship that is the very life of industry when not permeated by caste, schools that shall declare: "The ideal university is a place where nothing useless is taught." It belongs to an aristocracy to support the useless-- useless garments, ceremonies, athletics, learning and whatnot as the sign of an ability to indulge itself in reputable expenditure.
As my students worked in wood shop yesterday, I asked about their current block, Civics. The 7th, 8th and 9th grade classes are preparing to go to Washington, DC for 10 days, and they have been meeting with the local mayor, county government officials, our state representative and learning about all things having to do with the government at all levels. The culmination will be to visit our nation's capital. It is so difficult to learn just for its own sake. The mind and heart are best engaged when we perceive actual use for what we learn, and my students complained that Civics is so hard for them to get excited about. "What use is it?" they asked. And sometimes seeds are planted in what we learn that may not be of immediate use. But learning comes at the speed of light when actual usefulness of learning is made perfectly clear. A good teacher charts of course of useful experience.

Today the first, second and third grade students at CSS will be using their workshop time to make airplanes for their imaginary travel to Australia.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Two weeks of nothing but working in the shop would be as close to heaven as I'm likely to get.


  2. Mario, I am with you on that one.