Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Tarrah's guitar
Can I take it home now? I hear that question a lot in wood shop. Students love the evidence of their own learning.

I am reading through reflections I had asked my students to write in wood shop, about their favorite tools, about favorite projects, about things that they feel should be improved, and I get very strong favorable responses from most kids. On the other hand one student wrote only, "I love woodshop, I hate writing reflections." Still, it is important in schooling to have both. Another told me honestly, that she didn't want to make a guitar. She felt forced into it and a bit resentful. But now that it's done, she's pleased with it.

Lee Valley/Veritas Tools in Ottawa is a very strong supporter of industrial arts programs and featured a high school guitar making program on the cover of their new catalog. An article describing it can be found here: Fourteen polished, playable six-string axes, each one crafted by a GBFP student, grace the cover of the Lee Valley Spring 2016 catalogue. Circulation: 570,000.

Most ot the recipients of those 570,000 catalogs will probably be hands-on learners themselves and will recognize the value of the work that students can do in school, and perhaps yearn to have had that kind of experience themselves. The biggest question, is when we will choose to do something about it? We can let schooling  proceed in its merry, destructive way, or parents, teachers, and grandparents can take matters into their own hands.

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


  1. Hi Doug,
    Check out http://jacobsinstitute.berkeley.edu
    It is one attempt to rectify the bad decision made by so many schools which have eliminated shop and other hands on programs...and it represents leadership in this regard by a prestigious institution, University Of California. Keep the faith!

  2. Hi John. MIT on the other end of the country has also been a leader in maker spaces. What I would like to bring about in all schools would be an awareness of the value of skills, mindfulness and the application of attention in the development of intelligence. Schools tend to think that by filling kids heads with information, they've done their jobs.

    We had a Rabbi at the Unitarian Church this last week, and he said that his faith is not about what you believe, but about what you do and that most of the Jewish tradition is about learning to live a better life. That would be a good thing for schools to consider.