Wednesday, August 01, 2018

the opportunity to make mistakes

I regard my box making class for adults to be an ideal learning environment. Students are encouraged to design their own work. Students are taught the means to build a basic box. No specific requirements are preordained as to size, choice of materials, or design. Students get to make their own mistakes. I make some mistakes of my own (though not on purpose) showing that to make mistakes is human and forgivable.

I bring a variety of boxes to serve as examples and to stimulate thoughts.

Children are very effective at learning in part because they respond to error without being slowed by recrimination. They take also take risks without caring what other people might think.

As quickly as possible, I give my students a variety of choices in joinery types, so that they are then distributed among a number of tool and processes and do not wait too long in line.

I attempt to deliver instructions when we are all standing at the tool required, material in hand. I demonstrate, and offer the students the opportunity to ask questions about my techniques. Then I step out of the way so that students can try their own hands at the task. I remain available to coach students through their successful use of the tools and answer any questions that may come up. When things go awry, I am there to help the students assess. When things go right, I am there to compliment and congratulate.

This might serve as an effective model in all educational environments from pre-K through university and beyond. The photo is from the Sloyd School at Nääs, where teachers came from around the world to learn to use woodworking as a means to extend Kindergarten style learning beyond the Kindergarten years, an ideal proposed by Uno Cygnaeus in his development of the Finnish Folk Schools.

Make, fix, create, and encourage others to learn likewise.

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