Sunday, October 05, 2014

woodshop on the road

Yesterday I took my woodworking to the Eureka Palooza to make toy cars and tops with the kids. It was a pleasant afternoon, and I heard from parents whose children had made cars last year that they are still enjoyed and played with. It is obvious that the change that our children need most in their education will not come from schooling unless your child attends a school like Clear Spring.

The little girl in the photo above made 3 flip cars and 6 tops, thinking of the cousins that needed gifts that she might make for them.

The following is from Kindergarten in a Nutshell, written back when the introduction of Kindergartens in America was driving educational reform, leading to art, music, nature studies, field trips and wood shops... all the good things that were abandoned in the race to greater educational efficiency and "higher" standards.
"There is, perhaps, no educational opinion which is more firmly fixed in the popular mind than that the earlier a child is taught to read the more it will redound to his present good, to his future glory, and to the welfare of his country; and there is certainly no other belief of its size and enduring quality which is, on the whole, more pernicious."
One would not normally think the teaching of reading as pernicious, but it can be when it comes at the wrong time. The same can be true of digital technologies. Parents and so many educational policy makers believe that the earlier you introduce digital devices, the better. And because so many are addicted themselves to the rapid fire pace of digital performance, they think that their kids should be getting an early dose of the same thing, even though the experts in child development warn of the pernicious effects.
Froebel believed that the child should be taught the full use of the members of his body and of his senses, that his faculty of speech should be trained, the powers of his mind and heart somewhat developed by the study of the things about him and their relations to himself, before he was introduced to the conventional learning of the schools—that is, to dealing with signs and symbols for things instead of the things themselves.
The exact same thing could be said today but on this newer subject of digital technologies. In case you haven't noticed, computers are full of signs and symbols of things, third and fourth party interpretations, when children on the other hand should be introduced to the real world and its wonders first, in order to have a firm foundation for the interpretation of digital representations of things. The mind may seek the truth, but the hands find it. 

I get questions  about how to introduce children to the joy of woodworking. It is really quite simple. Prepare a few parts that they can assemble and shape into something new they will be proud of. Those things that give us both satisfaction in the making and pride in the results, will lead to the inclination to repeat.  Having the opportunity to repeat the process at a later time will seal the deal. My own set up yesterday required two small workbenches, (child height) and some materials and small tools. The wooden mallets were made in the school wood shop.

Today we have a 40th anniversary brunch  for Clear Spring School at the Crescent Hotel that I will attend.

Make, fix and create...

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