Saturday, September 15, 2012

Make it really for real...

I've applied a Danish oil finish to my new box, and still have time for many other wonderful real fun things this morning in the wood shop. As shown below, a piece of black nylon string and two pieces of wood glued to the box side and lid form a simple lid stay.

Virtual learning has nothing to do with virtue. And its nothing new. Entrepreneurial educators throughout the world are trying to cash in on computer technology, but cashing in on technology has been going on for years. As technology has advanced, the media has become more enticing, and in some ways more effective and in some ways not.

Pestalozzi (1746-1827) had pioneered the use of graphic images in the 1800's, but one day in his school, a student challenged his teacher. He said, "You want me to learn the word ladder, but wouldn't it be better to go look at the ladder in the shed?" The teacher brushed aside the students question. "We don't have time to go outside," the teacher said. Later as the teacher tried to teach the child the word window, the child again challenged, "Wouldn't it be better to look at the real window? We don't even have to go outside to look at it." Frustrated, the teacher went to Pestalozzi after class and asked about the incident. "The child was right," Pestalozzi said. Whenever possible, children should learn from real life through the application of all their senses.

And so what are the things we tell children in our methods of virtual education? The introduction of computers, gaming, and other digital delights are not our first forays into virtual learning. I can remember when I was in college and my cohorts and I would ask each other, "What are you going to do when you get into the real world," meaning that which comes after the artificial construct of college education.

These days, our virtual worlds have become so complete and compelling that we have young men hanging out in their parents basements for years rather than engaging in real life.

It is my speculation that when we present children with a constant diet of the artificial, we deny the value of what is real, we tell them that what is real does not matter, and thus direct their development toward that which is lacking in true virtuosity and virtue.

One of the great things about having manual arts in schools was that they allowed the students to do real things. Directing our children into lives of constant pretense, regardless of how our advanced digital technology can make it seem real, and engaging, is not the same thing as preparing them for real life.

In the photo below you can see my new design pull for a lift lid box. This one is made by reshaping a conventional turned knob so that it defies convention. In box making effective surprise should rule the day. Your work can be completely conventional and uninteresting, or you can reshape the commonplace. When the eyes and mind see what they regard as commonplace, the hands stay in pockets. When what is seen may have some identifiable elements and yet defy the commonplace, the hands come out, have to touch, and the next thing they may be reaching for the billfold for money or credit card to buy. Instead of ugly screws to mount the pulls, I will be using 3/16 in. dowels that glue perfectly in the holes on the underside of each knob and in holes I will drill in the lids. No ugly surprises when you lift the lid. These boxes will soon be available on
Besides making a few new boxes, I have been attempting to finish a few boxes that have for various reasons been left incomplete. The cherry and maple box above needed routing and a pull for the lift lid. Now all it needs is a couple coats of Danish oil.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. I like the look of the hinge stay blocks.

    Regarding getting the children out into the real life, my experience has tought me that if there is any water involved. Then there is a huge chance of success.
    Tell them to build a dam on any small stream, and in no time everyone is participating.

    You can even make a paddle wheel or a lock gate for the dam, and they can learn some physics and history at the same time. If they are told to make a canal between two puddles of water they can hear about the Panama Canal etc. The opprotunities are there, it just requires someone brave enough to make use of them.