Tuesday, November 15, 2016

der tischler

Yesterday I had a new student in wood shop, and it was exciting for him and for me to see his creative energies unleashed, and to see the eagerness of my more experienced students to help.

I received word this morning that wood is ready for me to pickup to build a large dining table. So I'll be a "tischler" for a time, a table maker in German. Froebel's poem to der tischler that accompanied the illustration above was translated as follows by Nora Archibald Smith
The joiner.

Plane, plane, plane——
Joiner follow the grain!
Smooth as silk the table grows;
Not a brake the fiber shows.
Plane, plane, plane——
Joiner, follow the grain!

Strong, strong, strong,
Push the plane along!
Make the bench all glossy white;
Not a splinter leave in sight,
Strong, strong, strong,
Push the plane along!
Please note the hands at the top of the image, and the small girl below at work on her own table. Of course, a picture is worth a thousand words. The joiner's garb expresses the classic nobility of labor. The hand gestures at the top were what they children would do with their own hands as the poem would be recited. The small child at the bottom tells that even girls would be ennobled and empowered by the woodworker's craft.

My sister Sue loves to promote my books and decided to contact a friend involved in promoting Montessori schools about doing a review of Making Classic Toys that Teach on her blog. In response, the friend confessed that her own family was completely "unhandy" including her children and that the book would be of little interest to her or her readers. To which I once again quote Maria Montessori, that the hands are the path to the mind.

Last night my wife and I watched Michael Moore's movie, "who should we invade next?" And I was surprised that it had so little to do with war, and so much to do with how our American government and American society fail the American people. A particularly telling episode visited the schools of Finland, and provided very clear lessons in what we could do to improve American education. No specific mention was made of sloyd, but there were scenes showing children making things from wood.

What we have done by making school in the US so abstract and unrelated to the lives of kids is one of the lingering tragedies that must be addressed to really make America Great Again. In the movie, Michael Moore "invaded" countries to take the best of what he could from them. The great irony was that the ideas he found were American ideas and ideals that had first arisen in the American experiment, but that had been discarded by those greedy for money and power.

Make, fix, create, and suggest to others that we learn holistically by doing real things.

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