Tuesday, April 15, 2014

growth of mind...

When I first conceived forming a wood shop at the Clear Spring School, it was because woodworking in schools had become wrongfully understood to be irrelevant to education. Wood shops had closed in high schools all across the US and with the exception of a few Waldorf Schools, and a small number of independent schools on the east coast, woodworking in middle schools and elementary schools were a thing of the past.

In my own shop, woodworking appeared as a nexus, interconnecting all things. You cannot DO real things without trespassing beyond the bound of the artificially contrived disciplines. Just as you cannot do Chemistry without math. You cannot do woodworking without some observation of the basic laws of physics, and if you begin to extract one thing from the other for the sake of convenience of instruction, the relevance of all things is sacrificed on the altar of expedience.

Froebel had in mind the education of the whole child, and to meet that goal, he suggested that education must consider the interconnectedness of all things. The following is from H. Courtwright Bowen's book Froebel:
"...to the young child, as to primitive humanity, all knowledge does, as a matter of fact, come as one whole, and that the subdivision into subjects and departments is a very gradually evolved plan, for the most part wholly artificial, and only adopted for the sake of convenience. Moreover, the very nature of knowledge itself teaches the necessity for connectedness."
This "connectedness" is the object of the reintegration of woodworking into education. Woodworking offers the opportunity to test what is learned in other more artificially contrived learning within the school, making real and of real interest learning that may have remained lifeless to the interests of the child. Our schools suffer from artificiality and disconnection from real life, as we suffer from the delusion that schooling will provide the necessary tools for our kids to prosper when graduated from their confinement.

Today, our Clear Spring School Students are at Heifer International, participating in their Global Village. I will be in my wood shop making a small mountain of boxes from a huge number of carefully machined parts.

Make, fix and create...

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