Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jewelry cabinet

One of the students, Don, from my MASW cabinet making class finished his small cabinet, and fitted the inside for use with jewelry. He had opted to leave the shelves out and design the interior to his wife's specifications. He says it was helpful to be able to finish the cabinet at home and to have his wife's input on the interior design. Is that not always the case? We are smarter and make better decisions when we collaborate with others.

I am impressed with his work.  I am hoping that many of the other cabinets made by my students will be equally lovely. Don included a secret compartment in his and used it to display some of his skills on the lathe,  by making turned pegs and ring holders.

The cabinet (without Don's additions) is one featured in my book, Building Small Cabinets. 

Editorial review and corrections are now completed for my Tiny Boxes book and it is ready to move along to its next stage in production.

One of my students at MASW gave me a copy of Fareed Zakaria's book, In Defense of a Liberal Education. (Thanks, Andy!) One of the many points it makes is that trying to educate young people to fit careers is not enough. They need to be brought up into the broad expanse of human culture, becoming engaged in an understanding of history, and literature. Who can argue with that? I for one, would never do that. But to focus on intellectualism alone as "liberal education" is not enough. The hands must also be included in the making of useful beauty as a grounding for all else.

The illusion of a successful economy is what happens when you have an intellectual elite that has been groomed and cultivated to be out of touch with the working class as described by Woodrow Wilson in 1909 when he was president of Princeton.

"We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."—Woodrow Wilson
At least in Wilson's time the lower class was understood to have value and Wilson provided some understanding of the value of the middle class and practical learning in the following:
"You cannot develop human nature by devoting yourselves entirely to the intellectual side of it. Intellectual life is the flower of a thing much wider and richer than itself. The man whom we deem the mere man of books we reject as a counsellor, because he is separated in his thinking from the rich flow of life. It is the rich flow of life, compact of emotion, compact of all those motives which are unsusceptible of analysis, which produces the fine flower of literature and the solid products of thinking."—Woodrow Wilson
The same can be said of a man of labor. His work may be an expression of intellectual engagement and a flowering of human culture, just as might be that of the academic. The most fruitful flowering is when both sides are expressed in and through each other. I feel like writing Zakaria and asking him if he understands the value of the manual arts. Educational Sloyd was at one time considered an important part of a liberal education.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the courage to learn likewise.

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