Wednesday, February 08, 2017

bending more nails.

Yesterday I sent a very large box of box guitars to my editor in Nashville, so pictures can be taken for the cover and for the beginning of each chapter. I also began making almost a dozen boxes, some of which will be used to demonstrate and test the Infinity Dovetail Spline system for a review in Fine Woodworking.

Today in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School, my upper and lower elementary school students will be working on a variety of projects, and because they are all at different levels of skill and understanding, it makes sense for me to allow them to work at their own pace, and on projects drawn from their own longings.

I received new pliers in the mail yesterday that will be helpful whenever my students need to pull nails. Today I will introduce these special nippers, and encourage them to bend nails and see how they work. The important point is to shift as much of the load as possible to the kids, so that they take full ownership of the things they make and the processes through which they are made.

The illustration is one I made showing that if the hammer strikes an indirect blow, the nail bends. If children know how to bend a nail, they may also be more attentive to hammer angle when they want one to go in straight.

A friend of mine is beginning work on her PhD at Cambridge, with her special area of interest being "tinkering." Not long ago, universities in Finland and Sweden were being encouraged to abandon their support of advanced degrees in Educational Sloyd in order to conform to European University Standards. So let's hope the tide has turned. Let them call it by a new name, as long as the gist is the same. Children learn best hands-on, by making real things of useful beauty in service to family, community, and their own imaginations.

There actually is a difference between what has been called "tinkering" and woodworking in that woodworking relies on materials drawn from the natural environment, and therefore has the potential of connecting students to a deeper and more primal understanding of reality. In an age in which children know far too little about the natural environment, it makes great sense for them to work with real wood.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

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