Thursday, March 05, 2015

return of shop classes...

I heard a rumor that our neighboring community of Berryville, Arkansas is considering building a new high school wood shop. That may mean that the tide is beginning to turn. When a small town in Arkansas suddenly realizes the stupidity of children not being engaged in doing real things, it may signal a return to the simple understanding that humanity is enhanced and human culture is formed anew when students are granted the opportunity to exercise their creative capacities.

This new movement in Berryville seems to be led by a superintendent who has a better grip on how we all learn and how teachers must teach if children are to be fully engaged in schooling. He had noted at a school board meeting that when he visits a classroom and sees the students passively listening to their teacher standing at the head of the class, things are not right. The vision that most administrators hold as their ideal, where students are passively listening is dead wrong.

The great mistake in American education is to think of children as a class and not as a room full of individual minds. The greater mistake is to attempt to force them to perform as a class, rather than as a grouping of individuals with varying skills, interests and potentials. While schools are testing to demand an answer to the question, "are you smart?" The big question becomes, "how are our students smart?" To learn the answer to that, we need to provide real challenges and allow demonstrations doing real things, in which students have followed their own interests to discover their true capabilities, and having been encouraged by skilled teaching staff. If you think that will look at all like a conventional classroom in which students passively listen, you are mistaken.

There is no school today as all will be digging out from our winter storm, and our roads are too steep for safe travel.  I will use the tractor to clear our road, and do the same at Clear Spring Pre-school, where the road becomes treacherous for a week or more if ice is allowed to harden on it. Fortunately we will have several days of clear skies and warming.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I am very interested in teaching kids ( small people ) woodworking. Can I get you eMail address... My email is

    Lots of questions !

    Thanks in advance.

    Bartee Lamar

  2. My email address is in the form of a link just above the about me section of the blog. It says, "questions about wisdom of the hands can be addressed to Doug Stowe."