Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hofstadter's Law

boxes for box guitars.
Yesterday in reading Crawford's, The World Beyond Your Head, I found where he mentioned a law (which he did not name) that everything takes longer than planned. That was a phenomenon I had noticed myself through making beautiful useful things, but in reading Crawford's book I became curious whether it had actually been stated as a law with a formal name and all. Here it is thanks to Google:
Hofstadter's Law:
It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.
— Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Douglas Hofstadter is a clever man, and his book mentioned in the quote above can help to explain academia and academic pursuits in that actors create meanings that may or may not have reference to reality, that are nonetheless meaningful to the actors involved. Escher's hand drawing a hand, drawing a hand is the perfect visual metaphor for the pursuit of academic learning. So your can get your degree in some arcane area of didly squat and never even know how to make a box.

The boxes shown in the photo above are the start of three box guitars. Two are rectilinear, and the other is what I call a K-Body due to its resemblance to the letter "K".

Woodworking magazine, FDMC in their latest issue has a special report on Woodworking Education in which they contacted seven U.S post secondary schools with wood tech programs. These seven programs have a nearly 100 percent job placement record, but have been handicapped from the outset, as have been their students by educational policy makers at the highest level. According to Mark Lorge at Fox Valley Technical College:
The challenges for our industry started quite a while ago. Every politician that wants to make a name for himself messes with public school funding. The trend in high schools is to try to send every graduate to a university. When the funding is cut to the schools, the programs that are not viewed as academically rigorous are the first to go. All industrial arts classes are expensive and take up a lot of space. Unfortunately, these classes have the perception of being geared more toward the academic underachiever.

The concept that these students may learn differently or gain self-esteem by actually making a tangible product doesn't get taken into consideration.
The way Hofstadter's law fits in is that we began the Wisdom of the Hands program at Clear Spring School in 2001, and I started this blog in 2006. We may be making slow progress in reshaping how manual arts can fit in to the overall development of each child. Still, this is taking much longer than I thought.

On a related matter, children need to play, and eat healthy foods, in addition to making things in wood shop. The idea that children should be confined to desks for more than 15 minutes at a time is idiocy, pure and simple.

Make, fix, create, and encourage others to learn likewise.

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