Wednesday, September 06, 2017

recognizing the wrong answers...

Yesterday, Barry Dima from Fine Woodworking and I did more photography to illustrate making a hidden spline joint. We shot the sequence on speculation that perhaps the magazine will be interested in an interesting technique useful to box makers but less common than a fingerjoint or keyed miter joint. The technique for this joint is one that I discovered on my own, so it's not one that I've found published in other books or articles but my own. For that reason it may be of lesser interest.

Barry and I also visited my good friends Larry and Don at Old Street Tools as they were working on their remarkable hand planes. I thought it would interesting for an editor of Fine Woodworking to get to know the makers of what must be the finest wood bodied planes in the world. It was a visit I know Barry will remember. We talked about some new discoveries that Larry and Don have made about the refinement of 17th century English planes, relating to their balance.Their tools can be found at

The things we do in real life have greater importance to the shaping of our intellect and character than the things we read or witness second hand. Is this a difficult concept to comprehend? Is that not an idea (and ideal) that should be applied in American education?

The other thing about being involved in real life in comparison to commonplace American schooling is that one learns how things work, and how to recognize when things do not.

Let's take the multiple choice question as an example for exploration. Whether in a teacher contrived test or one made by the standardized testing industry there will be one right answer and 3 or 4 that are made up and recognizably false, particularly to those who have a foundation of personal experience. I'm using Duolingo to study Swedish and Norwegian and recently, Duolingo pronounced me 23 percent fluent in Swedish. The truth is that I simply know how to discern a wrong answer when I find one. So I am not actually that fluent. I simply know how to read through a set of answers and know when they are off the mark. Yes, I am gradually getting better and building my vocabulary, but I would be hesitant to claim even the lowest level of real fluency at this point. The only reasonable and real test would be to converse with a Swede. All else is bull hockey.  Is it fair to say the same about schooling when it ignores the real learning and developmental needs that children have?

Since I've packaged and shipped the box shown above for the article in Fine Woodworking, I guess its fate is sealed. I appreciate those who offered advice as to whether or not to put a pull on it. I chose the lazy and least intrusive solution by leaving it without pull.
My book Making Classic Toys that Teach has not as yet taken off in sales. It is a book that's hard to classify. Is it a book about making things, or is it about the history of progressive education? It is both, and it is intended to set the stage for families that are healthier and better engaged in giving to their kids, what they really need to thrive both in character and intelligence. If you are not familiar with this book, it can be found on here: You can help the book to have a larger impact by suggesting it to family and friends.

Make, fix, create and insist that children be given at least a chance to learn likewise.

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