Sunday, August 30, 2020

Jefferson lap desk...

Struggling with the start of school? Welcome to the club.  Michele Goldberg wrote an interesting essay in the New York Times last week addressing the concerns that parents and teachers face. 

As a mother she considers how to handle her own situation in New York City Schools. Some schools in New York City are now planning to move their activities and lessons out of doors, a strategy that the Clear Spring School has been planning for months.

The article suggests that parents all across the US are facing pretty much the same thing during the pandemic. Do we send our children and teachers into classrooms where the pandemic may threaten the teachers and the lives of their family members? Lacking real leadership they can trust, many parents are making that decision for themselves. 

I'm in the process of making tool box kits that our Clear Spring School students can assemble whether they are in class or taking part in at-home learning. The project interests me because I've been wanting kids to have tools of their own, and I hope to begin supplying them. The first tools we'll supply are hammers, and I received a shipment of hammers last week. Fortunately at Clear Spring School our school is small, our classes are small, and we can offer greater attention to the safety of each child.

I've not been writing in the blog lately due to the amount of time I've been spending on my new book, The Wisdom of Our Hands. We started with a book size in mind consisting of between 50-60,000 words, that being a reasonable read of around 250 pages. By last count, I'm at 55,000 words but have a tremendous amount of crafting to do,  cutting some, adding just a bit, and making clear. As with many things, I feel just a bit outside my comfort zone. I keep reflecting on the needs of our society, that we move more directly toward an appreciation of each other, that we build connections, not walls.

Wish me luck.

Among woodworkers, the Jefferson Lap Desk shown in the photo is a popular subject that's written about again and again in woodworking magazines and online. Giving credit where credit is likely due, an even more beautiful duplicate of this box was made by one of Jefferson's slaves, John Hemmings, though that box was lost in a shipwreck. 

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


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

stubby hammers

I don't mean to insult you. You may have a hammer like this thinking it will fit in your drawer better than one with a normal length handle. 

When children are small and hammering for the first time, they grip the handle of a normal hammer close to the head. With practice in its use, children's hands will move to the end of the handle, giving them greater leverage and power. A long handle also brings the hammer face square to the head of the nail, thereby helping to avoid bent nails.

So I'm somewhat amazed to see so many hammers for sale that are just like this. Have we surrendered to our being inept? 

The handle is evidence of an extension of human intelligence, just as it is evidence of an increase in human power, control and reach. A heavy hammer with a short handle is actually much more difficult to use and use well, and actually places the joints in the hand and elbow at greater risk.

There are so many hammers like this being sold. Is it because so many people have become inexperienced in a hammer's use and are unfamiliar with the effectiveness of a normal one?

I'm planning for a new school year at the Clear Spring School, applying finish to boxes and I've been writing my new book.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning lifewise.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Wood Magazine review.

 Wood Magazine published a review of my new book, The Guide to Woodworking with Kids.

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

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

rats that drive and love it.

 Kelly  Lambert at the University of North Carolina has done extensive study of what she calls "effort driven rewards", that what we do has direct impact on how we feel and how we feel about ourselves. This is a lovely bit of research that confirms the necessity of engaging the world hands-first, by doing real things.

Make, fix and create.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Getting a full grip

There's an old idiom "all thumbs" to describe being physically inept regarding our ability to do things requiring the hands. 

The origins of the idiom are traced back to before 1546, as it was published in John Heywood's collection of proverbs written in 1546: "When he should get aught, each finger is a thumb."

These days, if you watch children and adults using their iPhones you'll see their thumbs moving rapidly, while the rest of their fingers are idle supporting the device. Our thumbs can be amazingly dextrous. 

What happens however, when the rest of the fingers providing functionality to the human hand are ignored? Will we suffer in intellect and character as a species if we fail to cultivate the full range of human grips?

Technology has put us at that point that it is altering the way we think. Each of the grips shown in the drawing are also ways of grasping. We grasp with the hands. We also grasp with the mind. If our fingers are over used in poking and dragging over the glass surfaces of our digital devices, to the neglect of the dexterity of our other fingers will we lose the stronger grip on reality that we get from the full use of our hands? If our children should get more than "aught" meaning goose egg, nada, naught, nil, nix, nothing, null, zero, zilch, zip, zippo, let them develop their full capacities to grasp reality, by doing real things.

I've been at work on my new book based on the contents of this blog, developed over quite a number of years. With a goal of no more than 60,000 words, I'm over one third complete at this point. We are having A+ Schools staff training today, preparing for Clear Spring School to become a full-fledged member of the  organization bringing arts integration into American education.

These are not normal times. Our nation is in a serious crisis.

Make, fix, create, and get a grip....