Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Today in the woodshops...

Today as I prepare for my presentation with Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education, the Clear Spring School wood shop is being used for an ESSA class on wood turning. Les Brandt has 4 students at various levels from beginning to intermediate, and they are having great fun. I arrived this morning in time for some instruction in how to sharpen a bowl gouge.

Robert Keable Row, wrote the following in 1909 that can be applied to today...
"The writer not long ago saw an alleged lesson in sense-training in art. A very bright, enthusiastic teacher had a class of 40 or fifty children from seven to eight years of age. She stood before the class and held in her hands a number of cards about six by eight inches in size. Upon each card was mounted a cheap reproduction of some famous work of art. A picture was flashed before the children for from two to five seconds and then removed. The children were expected to name the picture and the artist, and they did it with surprising readiness and precision. What was the value of it all? 'What fools we mortals be.'

"Among another group of teachers, the disease breaks out, and becomes very infectious 'visualization' or an alleged system of 'mind training.' All sorts of exercises and games are devised to provide practice in taking mental snap shots of the form, size, color and number of objects, pictures, or hieroglyphic symbols. It is the easiest thing in the world to create a high degree of abnormal interest in this sort of exercise. Only teachers of enthusiasm are likely to undertake it. The enthusiasm infects the children, and the activities involved are so superficial, and so gently graded, that the majority of children seem to succeed well in them. A spirit of intense emulation prevails and some children soon become very expert in the exercise. It is easy to test results and the method lends itself to public demonstrations as only superficial work can. For these same reasons the method becomes epidemic for a time among a certain class of teacher who are especially susceptible to that kind of infection."
Row suggests that there is a difference between contrived training of the senses, and sensory training that comes from being engaged in doing real things. For example, in the wood shop children learn to look closely, to listen attentively, to use touch and sight to measure progress, to develop rhythm and method in their work, and to develop sensitivity to their own bodies in the process of making beautiful and useful things.

Make, fix and create...

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