Thursday, February 04, 2016

Yesterday... the wood shop.

Our guitar making at Clear Spring has been going well, with some students at the point of assembly, having shaped their necks and built the boxes. One has the front and back attached to the body so that it is ready for sanding and paint. This whole process has been particularly interesting for me in that when we made guitars in the past, there were fewer opportunities offered for student creativity in the process. I have a bit more experience than the students at this point and more time in the shop so I have several different guitars in the works. And seeing the older kids working on guitars, the youngest ones have announced their interest in making Panjos, using cake pans for the body of their instruments and with only one string.

At one time, having introduced woodworking to students in the first and second grade, I wondered what it would be like working with high school students who had been with me in the wood shop from their starting days of education. What kinds of projects would be made and what level of skill would be demonstrated? At this point some of my high school students have been noticing how long they've been coming to wood shop. I and and the shop and the tools we use have become an institution in their lives. I have photos of these kids in their first days, and the projects they've made.

Even if I did not have a broader message here, "that all children in school need to be creatively engaged in doing real things," there is a warmth in the whole experience that I can only hope might become emulated in the lives of others. Over the years, I have gotten to see these kids grow up, and I've managed to be a part of their creative lives, assisting  a rise in their creative capacities.

On Monday, our head of schools asked me to consider the three points I would make concerning how Clear Spring School is unique and necessary. The first I would make is that schooling must be adapted to the proven developmental needs of each child. Clear Spring School does that. The second is that schooling should be collaborative and integrative, so that no subject stands alone and no teacher stands alone in the lives of our kids. We do that, and wood shop is deeply woven through. The third thing is that in order to foster true democracy, schooling should not isolate children in peer groupings and age groupings, but should open each child to a greater engagement in the totality of community life. I can say without reservation, Clear Spring School does that, too.

On a related subject, Defending the Early Years has published a paper addressing the application of Common Core Standards to children as young as those in Kindergarten. Standards have been driven by what the educational industry wants, and not what children are capable of. The consequence is that many children are driven at a very early age to regard schooling as abhorrent.  A fourth point I would make about the Clear Spring School if I was given time,  is that children love it.

The students in the video above are now in my high school class and other videos of my students at work can be found on youtube.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

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