Friday, March 03, 2017

being clear...

I want to be clear that I'm not one who believes students should not go to college, but that all education, including college should be hands-on so that students at all levels receive real learning experiences, have the opportunity for deep engagement in learning, and develop the character traits and value system associated with real work.

My insistence on this stems from my own experience, the reflections of countless educators for centuries, and the Theory of Educational Sloyd that demands that learning move from the concrete to the abstract. Abstraction without the opportunity to test learning in real life is "purely academic," and what all schooling should seek to avoid.

Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, testified before Congress again, insisting that not all students need to go to college and that we need to re-examine what a good job may be. The idea for years now has been that if you are to be "successful" you will not do "dirty jobs" but will go to college instead.

I am reminded of one of my father's customers Louie, in Valley Nebraska. He had a junk yard, and would come into my father's store with grease deeply embedded his clothes, hands and face, but with a kindness and sense of humor and joy in his life that could have raised serious questions for those who aspired to live a finer life, untouched by real work.

Mike Rowe was interviewed on Fox News and told how the process of "making America great again" requires that we "make work cool again."

 In "Dirty Jobs," Mike has tried to show viewers that there is dignity and satisfaction in what some have termed "alternative employment." In the show, he goes around the country doing jobs that some would consider dirty, disgusting, and beneath their own dignity. He has attempted to show that all jobs have the potential of enriching humanity and the social barriers that some have constructed stand in the way of some people finding true satisfaction in their work.

Mike is an advocate of manual and industrial education in high school. I'll concur with that, as I've made clear time and time again. I also suggest, however, that all children, even from the earliest age, and even those who intend academic careers, even in the best and most expensive universities, should have the the opportunity to make beautiful and useful things as a crucial element in their intellectual and social development.

The making of beautiful and useful things, even getting dirty in the process is the soul of the human cultural developmental process. When we leave some members above it all and untouched by the reality of work, they are diminished by it. They fail to draw upon the intelligence real work provides. They also fail in their responsibility to grant dignity to those who labor for a living.

There is no career and no profession in which the practitioner would not have learned things of value from making something beautiful, useful and lasting from wood. The image above is of some of my sample patterns for making veneered boxes.

This blog has been getting a number of visitors from the industrial design magazine and a post about how the nation is losing or has lost its tool box. Maslow had said that if the only tool you have is a hammer every problem looks like a nail. I can tell you that if the only tool you have is a digital one, regardless of how powerful that tool may be, you've left yourself shorthanded.

Make, fix and create...

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