Monday, February 29, 2016

yesterday, this day and tomorrow.

The image at left is an advertisement from Time Magazine, and the caption reads, "Tomorrow I hope to teach Leo to use his hands for something besides video games." Is that not a hope shared by so many these days?

John G. Neihardt wrote that among the Plains Indians, mothers and fathers were most often too busy to perform the important role of teaching their children, and so that opportunity fell to the grandparents. It was the grandparents' responsibility to bring each child into the culture of the tribe. If a boy received his first bow and arrows, they were made by a grandfather. If a child made his first bow and arrows, it would be under the guiding hands of an elder. If a young woman made a pair of moccasins, it, too, would have been under the guidance of a grandmother. And so, as families have become spread out, and the importance of developing hand skills has been marginalized, it has become of increasing importance that those of a certain age take on the responsibilities that ought to come traditionally with age. The responsibility of sustaining human culture is large, and made more difficult by the ease with which digital devices are able to distract young people from the development of diverse skills.
 "The nascent period of the hand centres has not been accurately measured ... but its most active epoch being from the fourth to the fifteenth year, after which these centres in the large majority of persons become somewhat fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency ever afterwards.

"The small muscles of the eye, ear, larynx, tongue, and hand have much higher and more extensive intellectual relations than the large muscles of the trunk and limbs. If you would attain to the full intellectual stature of which you are capable, do not, I would say, neglect the physical education of the hand."--Sir James Crichton-Browne
If you want your children or those around you to arise to their full intellectual stature (as also suggested by the photo) lure your children into the shop, and let them discover real skills. Their intellectual engagement from making real things will lead them to something beyond the virtual (non-virtuous) world.

Mondays and Wednesdays are my busiest days with 4 classes each day. I have each student at the Clear Spring School in wood shop twice a week. And so I have the privilege of knowing each student well and to plan with them the growth of their skills and creative thought.

On Sundays I always have a list of materials that I prepare in my home shop for use at school related to whatever projects the kids are working on at the time. So yesterday I milled walnut and maple turning stock so that some of my kids can make checkers, and similar stock so that one of my students can make a chess set of her own design. She asked for walnut and maple stock 2 cm. square from which to cut the various chess pieces.

I intersperse school activities with time in my own shop working on projects of my own design. Yesterday, for instance, I made trays to fit in the chest style boxes we'll be making in one of the classes with the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers.

Make, fix, create and extend to others the joy of learning likewise.

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