Tuesday, April 30, 2019

gender in wood shop...

My assistant Curtis made an interesting observation today having to do with the projects students choose for themselves in wood shop. I try not to draw lines between genders. My classes are mixed gender. Both boys and girls are regarded and treated in the same manner to the best of my ability.

As Curtis observed, the girls are much more inclined to work on projects that display the relationship between things. The boys have a greater inclination to make individual things. For example, while one of my boys is making a toy airplane, a girl would be making a bedroom on a board, making a small bed and related objects and then people and pets that occupy the room. The girls may make whole houses, amusement parks, or similar settings derived from their observations. Boys have a lesser interest in that kind of project, and a greater interest in making individual objects that interest them.

Does this suggest that one kind of project is of less importance than another? I attempt to adhere to the principles of Educational Sloyd. The first principle is to start with the interests of the child. And with that in mind, boys and girls alike tell me that wood shop is a favorite thing on the Clear Spring School campus. When they ask "Do we have wood shop today?" and I say yes,  they reply, "Good."

The idea that men do woodworking and that women by assignment must do something else, is a useless and obsolete framework. But the idea that girls might make a different selection of project than boys within woodworking is one to accept and pay attention to. Boys and girls are not the same, and it's OK that we accept that and allow for diverse interests. In fact, we must.

We must also recognize the important role that Educational Sloyd played both in the history of Manual Arts training, and in the expansion of women's roles outside the home as professionals with competence equal to (or greater than) men in the teaching profession. A large proportion of the graduates of Otto Salomon's teacher training academy in Sweden were women. In the US, women helped establish manual arts training in public schools and took the lead in training both boys and girls in the manual arts. Throughout my years of writing the Wisdom of the Hands blog, I've highlighted women who've had major roles in furthering manual arts training.

With a first coat of finish applied to the top of the maple table, I'll return my attention to the table base.

Make, fix, create,  and assist others in growing and learning likewise.

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