Monday, July 15, 2019

We had great fun

We had great fun making box guitars and I was pleased the class went so well. It followed five intense days of box making at ESSA. I'm exhausted, not so much from seven straight days of class, but from the emotions involved in the death of my younger sister, Sue. Her death reminds me of my own mortality and the pressing concern of doing what's mine to do in the time I've got.

We must redirect American education toward the full implementation of our greatest human resources, our hands.

It's a large task. Gargantuan. I'll not do it alone. Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Anaxagoras had proclaimed man to be the wisest of all animals because he has hands. So this is not a discovery I made up on my own. It is a thing observed by countless wise folks through the long history of the human race. It is a thing that you can test in your own hands through recollections of your own learning experiences: those that have brought about an actual shift in your thinking or the direction of your  own life.

You will not need a standardized test or exhaustive research paper devised by experts to tell you what you need to know and that you can observe for yourself if you trust yourself to do so. We learn best, most efficiently and to greatest lasting effect when we learn hands-on.

So what do I mean by hands-on? Think of the first mate's call, All hands on Deck. He's not calling for hands alone, but hands connected to mind and will and skill and intelligence to do what needs to be done, sometimes in desperation to save the ship.

When children are allowed to do real things in service to family and community they learn from the real world those things they need to enable them to make even greater contributions as they mature. When they learn these things in the context of formal education, school becomes relevant  and even exciting to their own learning needs. The erasure of woodworking from schools is a symptom of greater issues: a reliance upon the contrived which the informs children that school is made up, unreal and the lessons therefore a waste of their time.

The ship of state is desperate shape and calls for courage. The state of American education, the same. It calls that we be good and that we be brave, and that we stand up against those who want education to confine children in classrooms with empty hands and empty minds.

So how about it? The photo shows one of our finished box guitars. Today I have my opening dialog with the editor of my book about woodworking with kids.

Make, fix, and create. Assist others in learning and teaching likewise.

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