Saturday, June 09, 2018

who is ready for what?

Yesterday I demonstrated the making of a miter box on camera for use in my book, "Wisdom of the hands, a guide to teachers of the manual arts." I also demonstrated that you can make perfectly square cuts just using a saw and square. You mark with the square and pencil, then cut using your saw and your careful attention. It requires practice. It requires attention to posture and grip of the hand on saw and you get better at it.

This brings me to the question, is it the teacher's job to make things easy for his students, or difficult, or simply to assist and guide in the dance between the two? If work is hard we learn more, and develop more and remember more. Learning to saw takes place in the body and in the mind and in the powers of attention.

Educational Sloyd suggests that students move from the easy to the more difficult. But make things too easy... to the point that student attention is not required, and interest quickly wanes and sense of accomplishment falters. Early manual arts educators were concerned that work not become "overly mechanical" which is what it becomes when provisions are made for it to be thoughtlessly done.

Woodworking philosopher David Pye had noted the difference between craftsmanship of certainty in which the jigs and fixtures were set up to avoid error (and everything always comes out the same), and craftsmanship of risk in which the craftsman is reliant upon his own intellect, her own attention and their own skill.

The purpose of a miter box is to hold the material and saw square to each other so that the cut is square. Attention, practice and skill can do the same thing with greater rewards in learning and satisfaction. The teachers job is in part, to know who's ready for what and to encourage the steps in growth that are most appropriate to the child at the time.

I continue and will continue, to be concerned about the use of disposable plastic. In essence, all plastic is disposable and everything you buy in the big box store is destined for disposal. This is not true, necessarily, of the things we make from wood or from iron.

The night before last I demonstrated (for a group of women) the use of my wonderful beer bottle opener I made in blacksmithing class. I also showed photos of the massive garden claw that I made.  My original intent was to make that as a gift for my wife. I realized it was larger than what she would want, so using my better judgement I made no pretense of it being a gift for our anniversary. Good thing. It frightened her. But it made a good story. The others in my blacksmithing class thought it was so romantic that I was making a garden tool for Jean. It turned out to be more than that. It's called "evidence of learning."

Today is the opening celebration of the Eureka Springs Community Center. It's a day Jean has been working toward for years. Today, also, I'll begin preparing the ESSA woodshop for my week-long class making a viking chest. Sign up if you are able.

Make, fix, create and accept that we all learn best likewise.

No comments:

Post a Comment