Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What you do makes real that which you've learned.

What you do makes real that which you have learned. I have a conversation scheduled today with a teacher and curriculum designer from California. I get these requests on occasion to help with designing a curriculum for a school hoping to add woodworking. It is always a bit awkward telling that I don't have a set curriculum. And these conversations are always interesting to me, because they cause me to reflect upon my own activities, and I always learn a few things in conversations with other educators.

I have begun reading David Whittaker's new book, The International Impact and Legacy of Educational Sloyd: Head and Hands in Harness. Like most of us who grew up outside Scandinavia, Whittaker's introduction to Sloyd, and the many years of research that led to this new book, is a shaggy dog story of sorts. This is David's 13th book in a long career of academic and political thought. He wrote to me as his personal introduction,
"Good to hear from you as a sloyder. I often look through your email material. If only I was my old fitness I would be coming over to see you but I am afraid that would now be imprudent.

My sloyd (slojd) interest originated way back in the 1950s when I went to Finland to teach English. The minority Swedes there taught me Swedish. What I learned about Uno Cygnaeus, his beliefs, his resolve to improve Finnish folk schools through harnessing head and hands fascinated me. Then there was this intriguing partnership with another educational radical, Otto Salomon, the establishment of the training institution at Naas and the diffusion of a pedagogical new deal throughout the world. So far as we know some 9000 enterprising young teachers absorbed the thinking and practice of Naas.

Coming back to the UK and into university teaching I wrote my M.A thesis on the origins and development of sloyd. People in Germany and Japan and Scandinavia got into touch with me and we have kept up the contact.

It was when I retired that I decided to attempt a proper study of sloyd using a research team approach. It was in the university of Jyvaskyla, Finland that we got the team together. We worked for almost 12 months last year with me as leader-in-part-residence and author of the book we would write The Impact and Legacy of Educational Sloyd. We then found out that in the University of Rekyavik, Iceland two fellows were very keen and highly informed about the Icelandic variant of Sloyd. I visited them and invited Gisli Thorsteinsson and Brynjar Olafsson to contribute a sample study chapter to the book. And the book is now available as hardback and ebook
This book appears authoritative. It is exactly the kind of resource that I would have found valuable as I began my own exploration of Educational Sloyd. I recommend it and plan to write a review of it for British Woodworking Magazine. For those interested in reading the book and not owning it, it can be rented from Amazon for reading on Kindle. Today in my wood shop, I will work on an article for American Woodworker Magazine.

Make, fix, create, and share with others the means to do so.

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