Thursday, September 04, 2014

Is this OK?

Making a wooden pencil box
As adults we learn about standards. For instance if you are writing something, it needs to conform to the basic patterns of word use and punctuation in order to be read and understood by others. If you are writing something for publication and not in a blog, or an email to a friend, editors will be involved in bringing the text to certain standards. If communicating an idea on paper, as one would do as an architect or draftsman, the image must be clearly presented, and certain standards must be met. So it is a challenge in schools to bring a perfect balance between allowing creativity and exploration, and requiring the child to adhere to certain standards of layout and design.

On Tuesday, my students from 5th through 10th grades began a project in wood shop in which they were to present a model in three views using t-square, drawing board, etc. I also wanted them to letter their project in the kinds of formal lettering that draftsmen once used. Sadly, if seems, I presented them too much information for them to absorb at one time, and their understanding of what I wanted got confused as some raced and got ahead of themselves. Some simply traced the model in three views rather than carefully measuring and drawing... thus avoiding the acquisition of skill. Others simply ignored the layout that I had described and demonstrated.

This afternoon, I get to start over and ask the kids to do likewise. We will regard Tuesday's work as first draft. When they ask, "Is this OK?" I plan to redirect them to what the project was intended to look like in the first place... and redirect them to what I want them to learn from it.

When kids leave school and enter the real world, the idiosyncrasies of their work will not be valued. So asking them to adhere to standards in school expressions of what they have learned is a good thing.

The photo above is from Tuesday when I introduced my first grade students to the wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

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