Thursday, December 12, 2019

finishing up...

We have one more week in the current Clear Spring School wood shop before we begin moving into the new hands on learning center. That means many student projects must be finished and taken home, or taken apart if they are abandoned.

Our Kindergarten students are finishing their toy trains. The engines and cars will be assembled in strings next week.

Other students are making boxes, canes and walking sticks.

Part of the value of woodworking is that in order to do it, students must think and observe closely, just as they must do in science. In fact, many early scientists were craftsmen as well in making the laboratory equipment required.

One of the challenges I have is that students come up with elaborate ideas about things they want to make. For instance, one student wanted to make a chicken house and came up with a design requiring what I estimated to be three sheets of plywood. I asked, "Do you see any wood around here that would enable you to do that?" He settled on a much smaller design.

In the digital world where many children and adults spend their time, all things are made easy. In fact, each new version of each program has been made successively more and more "user friendly" meaning easy to use. If it's easy to use, it can be done any anyone, no special skills required, and no student growth required. And yet, if you study kids you learn that they want to learn new and challenging things that allow them to demonstrate expertise and set themselves apart from each other. I refer you back to David Henry Feldman's essay that can be found by searching this blog for "The Child as Craftsman."

Kids have long been set apart from each other by having parents who buy them stuff. But there's a shallowness and artificiality to that when you compare it with the opportunities found in craftsmanship which requires students to do real things and develop real skill in the real world.

I received copies of Not Dead Yet, Reflections on Life, Aging and Death, yesterday to share with family and friends. My sister Mary needs not receive a copy as she's one of the contributors to the book. The Kindle edition is cheap, but it's nice to hold a real book. I thank the editor Dan Krotz for including our essays in it.

Make, fix and create...

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