Saturday, December 25, 2021

A pitch to the choir

One of the things that must happen as we get together to sing in harmony with each other is to settle on the perfect pitch. And when someone sings a solo in the choir, they do not perform alone. And so it is with a revolution. 

There are times when we take turns at the lead, letting our own voices rise and fall in pitch and in volume, and there are times when we hold back, taking a breath.

I want to introduce you to a branch of the choir, led by soloist Joe Youcha, who in the spirit of a great choir does not sing alone. The organization he founded, Teaching with Small Boats Alliance, is a good one. I made a small donation today because I believe they, by building small wooden boats with kids, offer many students a chance to actually learn hands on. 

When you build a boat, it either floats and floats well, or you must be prepared to swim, and so in building a boat, students do a learning task that really matters to them, unlike most of the time they spend being taught abstract stuff. When they ride the waters in something they've crafted themselves, no standardized test is needed to assure them of their accomplishments. The link for making a charitable donation to Teaching with Small Boats Alliance is here:

The boys in the boat shown are in the boat they built following Joe Youcha's instructions and plans at the Clear Spring School. Being one of the leaders in the revolution, too, Clear Spring School will also benefit from your annual end of year giving.

Make, fix and create...


Friday, December 24, 2021

a Christmas greeting.

A friend, Knud in Stavanger sent these words from Norwegian poet/lumberjack Hans Børli.

”A good/kind word : a seed. – In a hundred years – birds shall build their nests – in whistling wide branches. – God’s oaks – grow slowly on earth…”

May these gentle words serve as my season's greetings to you. In a world where whole forests in the Southeastern US are destroyed and marketed as green energy to feed power plants in Europe, and too many of us are consumed and corrupted by the short term, may we think in longer terms (lengre sikt). May we plant seeds that grow into finer things that nourish our families in more meaningful ways. May we think of the days a hundred years hence in which birds nest in our branches.

The image is also from my friend Knud. It is of the same quote in Norwegian, done in calligraphy by one of his friends. It hangs on his wall in Stavanger.

Make, fix and create...


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Book list

My new book, "The Wisdom of our Hands" has been reviewed and recommended by Booklist, a review service maintained by the American Library Association as an aid to librarians selecting books for their collections.

They say in part, "This book will appeal to readers who wish to learn more about woodworking and crafting, but from a broader perspective, anyone looking for a way to reconnect with the Earth would do well to read Stowe's wisdom." 

The full review will go live on their website on January 13, 2022. Foreword Reviews will review the Wisdom of Our Hands in their March/April print magazine.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, December 20, 2021

Rigor and joy

In the past I've mentioned that joy can provide a means through which we can observe and measure student and school success. I proposed a Beaufort-like scale to observe and measure joy. But joy is not just a happy thing. It fits in balance with effort and manageable frustration. In the late 1970s I had product cards printed (Thanks Jacquie Froelich) to be given along with the sale of my boxes. In the text I noted that frustration was an inevitable part of the process of growth, and that without the balance it provides the moments of joy we find are without context. How much sweeter is success when it arrives through serious effort than when it's delivered without.

So schooling is not just a process of passing a child from one happy day to another, but one of presenting obstacles and a path forward to build toward transcendence.

You can witness joy in the happy faces of children at play. A parent can see it in the excitement their child expresses for going to school each day. An observer in school will see it clearly through the students' engagement in learning. Students can even witness it in themselves and in others, so clearly, joy would be a better measurement of school success than standardized tests.

And then there's the other side. In order for joy to have value and greater meaning it requires some obstacles having been in the path, some expenditure of effort and resolve.

That's where craftsmanship comes in, and the use of the principles of Educational Sloyd to establish rigor. Educational Sloyd had a model series for the students to complete. Each model was to bring the students from a reasonable starting point, in a direction that challenged their growth and then further growth. If we look at the model series today, and for the wide range of students, so many of whom have no knowledge of craftsmanship, the use of simple tools or the growth of character and intellect required, the models seem incredibly difficult (or impossible). But the quest for joy demands rigor and growth. What satisfied the craftsman's need for growth today will not suffice for tomorrow and will bring less joy.

This all demands further clarification. Join me in thinking of these things.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, December 19, 2021

stowe cases

I was cleaning in the wood shop today and ran across a bit of memorabilia from about 1980. At the time I was making display cases for various shops around town, many of which are still in use. I thought briefly of branding them as "Stowe Cases" and attempting to market them outside of town. Not all ideas are good ones, and to market them outside of town would have taken me away from crafting other things. 

The brass plaque was intended to be a branding device, setting my own work apart from others on the market and it was engraved by Jim MaGee, whose shop in downtown Eureka Springs has a number of display cases I made.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, December 18, 2021

great books or great works

An article in the New Yorker asks, What's so great about the great books? 

How you feel about that subject might hinge on what you see the purpose of eduction being. Is it to provide a career, or to provide a sense of your own humanity? 

My daughter went to Columbia University mentioned in the article and as a freshman and sophomore was required to take the Core Curriculum as were other liberal arts majors. The idea is that all would be required to read and discuss a number of books considered important to our civilization. The Core Curriculum is considered to be a sacred part of the Columbia experience and was to bring students to a common understanding of human culture.

Otto Salomon, one of the founders of Educational Sloyd discussed two primary purposes of education. One he described as economic, that of preparing students to earn livings upon graduation. The other Salomon described as "formative" in that it did exactly what Columbia University proposes as the outcome of the Core Curriculum... bring the students to a common understanding of their own humanity and place within human culture.

But there is a difference between Educational Sloyd and the Core Curriculum in that Sloyd proposed the education of the hands, a thing not to be found in books alone.

While my daughter was at Columbia University, I tried to contact university president Lee Bolinger proposing to alter the core curriculum to bring students to learn about human culture by doing real work in the real world of craftsmanship. Of course I was unsuccessful. Who would listen to a woodworker from Arkansas. But craftsmanship is the real core of civilization and culture, and Socrates sucks in comparison to what students can learn from the real world.

Right across the street from the university is the unfinished cathedral, St. John the Divine, and the opportunity it presents is obvious. What could be better for college freshmen than to get real world experience chiseling stone?

To do so would fit the basic principles of educational Sloyd, most particularly that of moving from the concrete to the abstract.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 17, 2021

the traditional role of grandparents

As described by John G. Neihardt in "When the Tree Flowered," as parents of the indigenous people of the northern plains were providing for their children's survival, the grandparents were doing the things that assured cultural survival. They were the teachers, through story telling and the making of things. 

For instance, a boy's first bow would be made for him by a loving grandfather who would then coach him in the making of his next bow. The grandmother's hands were busily engaged in making beaded moccasins and clothing for their grandchildren in whom they took great pride and while the children watched. 

Children would learn all important things through the tutelage and demonstrations provided by the grandparent's generation.

Compare that to today as grandparents are often thrust aside and cultural indoctrination and support is provided through peer grouping and through connective digital devices. Add to this mix the fact that in schools, children are grouped by age for the sake of control while being offering ineffective transference of knowledge. We are building a culture that lacks depth, in part because we've abandoned the traditional relationship between generations. What's new is now the driving force, and things related to the past, even yesterday's past, are quickly discarded.

We live in a time in which even simple tools are put aside in preference for high tech devices. It's a plague in which natural curiosity has been commandeered and placed in the hands of super-predator high-tech corporations and the traditional role of the grandparent's generation has been usurped.

Reclaim our direct human role in furthering skill, intellect and human culture. Anaxagoras, early Greek philosopher explained that man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands. That's true even to this day. Use hands to teach.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, December 16, 2021

a mess of boxes

My woodshop is a mess with over 20 boxes nearing completion. These are all one-of-a-kind boxes as they were originally left-overs from having taught students various box making techniques. If I can get them finished they can be sold. If they can be finished they can be moved out of my woodshop to make room for the making of other things. And if I can get these boxes out of the way, I can give the shop the deep cleaning it deserves.

A friend, Kim Brand called suggesting that perhaps the best audience for my Wisdom of our hands philosophy will be found among folks in the grandparent generation. Those that grew up playing with paper, scissors and string may have noticed that their grandchildren are glued to their digital devices, and they, remembering their own childhoods will have hopes to be of use in offering creative opportunities to their progeny. Parents may be too busy and consumed attempting to make money and since most schools are unlikely to propel students into crafts, grandparents may be the ones to save human culture.

John G. Neihard wrote the book Black Elk Speaks, recording the words and philosophy of Black Elk. He also wrote a book of historic fiction called "When the Tree Flowered," about life among the indigenous peoples of the northern plaines. His description of the role played by grandparents is something we should all note. The tradition was that those of the grandparent's generation were the ones to impart human culture to the young.

So, in other words, my friend Kim is onto something you may have noticed as well.

Make, fix and create.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Making Classic Toys that Teach

One of my books has fallen off a cliff in terms of sales, and it's one that I think deserves greater attention due to it having to do with the teaching philosophy of Friedrich Froebel's Kindergarten, a thing that should be of interest to every teacher and every parent in America. 

The purpose of my book Making Classic Toys that Teach is to offer instruction to parents and teachers in the making of Froebel's Gifts. Froebel's gifts were designed to lead the child into creative engagement, integrated with an ever expanding understanding of self within the matrix of life. 

The book covers both  hand-tool and power tool approaches and also covers the three ways in which the gifts were used— To create forms of beauty, to create forms of knowledge, and to create forms representing the objects of daily life.

Some readers may remember that Froebel's Kindergarten played an important role in the development of Educational Sloyd.

This is the right season to expand parental duties and enjoyment into the making of gifts that give expanding wonders to the lives of our kids. Making Classic Toys that Teach also offers skill building exercises to folks wanting to expand their own skills as woodworkers. And how much better is it to make things to give kids, than to buy into the plastic supply chain that feeds directly from the sweat shops of China to the landfills of America.

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

Monday, December 13, 2021

five boxes

Yesterday I finished a 3 day box making class with students at ESSA, that immediately followed a two day photo shoot with Fine Woodworking. In my home wood shop I've been trying to finish boxes that have accumulated from various classes. 

The five boxes made in the last 5 days add to that burden. Three must be sent in to Fine Woodworking after sanding and finish for photography to finish production of the article which will be published at a future, unspecified date.

Yesterday I received a blurb for the promotion of my new book from one of my heroes, David Henry Feldan. His award winning essay, The Child as Craftsman, published many years ago should be read by every educational policy maker in the US.

About my new book, David Henry said the following:

“Out of the hills of northwestern Arkansas comes a woodworker/philosopher with a message that, if heeded, could help heal our fractured country. In humble yet powerful words, Doug Stowe shows us the virtues of good honest work, patience, and humility and their role in creating a life worth living. A landmark work.” — David Henry Feldman, Ph.D. Professor Emeritus of Human Development, Tufts University

I want to thank my students, ESSA, and my editor Barry Dima, for giving me a great 5 days of box making and 5 yet to be finished boxes as tribute to the time we spent together. 

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 10, 2021

start of three day class...

Today I start a three day box making class at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts. Due to covid 19 restrictions, I have a small class of only 4 students, so each will receive plenty of personal attention. 

Yesterday I finished a two day photo shoot with Barry Dima from Fine Woodworking. We made three boxes under the watchful eye of a Canon camera with huge lens, and flash. The boxes we made and photographed in process will serve as examples for my students as we begin class.

A friend of mine, Ron Hansen, PhD, professor emeritus from Western Ontario University and the founder of the Human Ingenuity Research Group offered the following comment on my new, yet-to-be released book:

Congratulations Doug and Linden. This book is so crucial to our understanding of human development and how the school apparatus that shapes our young fails to address both the need and the learning it requires. Bravo! Let the contrasts between contemplation and practical action evolve.

When we began the Wisdom of the Hands program at the Clear Spring School, it appeared obvious that the fix for American education would be. Engage the hands so that natural learning can commence. Being somewhat simple minded, I thought we would awaken folks to what's clearly in from of all our faces and change would come forthwith. But educators since Comenius have been laying out the same case. Learning needs to begin with the exploration of the senses to build a framework for deeper understanding. 

I've come to realize that change does not come easy and it's up to you as well to help build the case.

The photo shows three boxes made during the photo shoot.

Make, fix and create... 

Thursday, December 09, 2021

box making at ESSA

Yesterday I began making 3 boxes for Fine Woodworking, with Barry Dima taking photos of each step. The boxes have been glued up overnight and are waiting for the next steps which we'll take photos of today. 

We had been scheduled to do this article earlier,  but the Covid 19 pandemic brought delays. I was too busy yesterday posing for shots, and forgot to take any myself. I'll try to remember to take photos today. The photo shown is one from an earlier visit from Barry Dima in 2018 in which I demonstrated making a mitered box joint.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

A first review

Australian Wood, a woodworking magazine in Australia has posted a review of my new book, The Wisdom of Our Hands.  It is a very positive review that you can read here.

In the meantime, my own teaching at the Clear Spring School is over for the holiday season. I'm working on an article for Fine Woodworking with an editor visiting from magazine headquarters in Connecticut and I have a 3-day box making class beginning at ESSA on Friday. 

Make, Fix and Create...

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Path to learning: The Power of Hands-On Learning

I've been listening to the Path To Learning Podcast when I work doing quiet things in my wood shop. Each episode has content that I've found valuable, and today I listened again to my own episode which was recorded last summer. I think that if you are interested in progressive education you'll find it and other Path To Learning Podcasts useful. 

The senses are key. They lure you into learning. If you've wondered about the difference between the concrete and abstract in the principles of Educational Sloyd, the difference is simple. The concrete contains a full range of senses, proving to hand and mind the reality of the educational experience.

I'm reminded of a friend in her eighties who had asked to see my work many years ago. And then when presented with it she asked permission to touch it, claiming that what the eye is drawn to, the hands must explore and confirm. And so that's why the wisdom of our hands is so essential. What we see or hear consists of surface senses, but the hands not only sense the surface of things, they determine shape and weight, and provide the means to manipulate and test. Then when they've done their creative work, others can readily see and measure the results... no standardized tests required.

For the sake of efficiency, policy makers during the start of the industrial age, decided that children could be handled in the same manner as the assembly line managed parts. Students were to be arranged and sorted, by age and intellect without regard for the variations of human development and without regard for individual interests, and the expectation was not that we engage student interests and allow for the variations within the human species, but to force conformity to artificial standards.

And so they've made a great mess of things. It's not that their intentions are bad, but that failing to take the hands into consideration, they've made education overly abstract.

And so the path forward can be recognized in this quote from Anaxagoras, one of the earliest Greek philosophers who said, "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." But then how do we become wise if our hands are purposefully stilled and sequestered from the development of mind?

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, December 04, 2021

let's notice a few things...

If we look at how we learn, we'll notice a few things that can be applied also to how other people learn and how education can be designed for greater efficacy. 

Adults and babies learn the same way. We listen, we watch what goes on around us. When we are able, we test what we see to ascertain the reality of that which surrounds us. Our hands are instrumental in this. Babies tend to learn a bit faster than the rest of us. By the time they're ready for school, they know a lot. And what they have learned provides a framework of experience against which to measure what they are being taught. And all the kids arriving at school at the same time will not know the same things, nor should they.  

That is what we are attempting to address through progressive education. There's a long legacy of progress in progressive education. I can describe its progress through a series of pioneers. You had Comenius, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Diesterweg, Dewey and the Clear Spring School, just to name a few in a healthy lineage. But progressive doesn't refer to progress, meaning the newest, "best" thing, but to the progressive and natural growth of the child.

Froebel, having been a mineralogist before becoming a teacher, had noticed how a crystal would grow from a design held within. So it is with a child. The job of a teacher in progressive education is not to force knowledge in, but to call what is inside into play and encourage growth, falling back to the original meaning of the word "education," "to draw forth."

One of the challenges that teachers perpetually face is the question, "what is your curriculum?" The word curriculum refers to a set of plans that are used to convey a sense of legitimacy to the teaching effort. But while it's important to have a plan, the most important part of the plan requires a willingness to abandon the plan when real needs are made clear to the teacher through listening to, observing and learning from actual students.

This is where the principles of Educational Sloyd fit in. They provide a framework for directing and assessing student growth, as well as a means to plan the educational experience. Want to know what comes next? Your observation of the child will be more meaningful than the lesson book.

For babies and adults alike, we start with the interests of the child and proceed from that point.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, December 03, 2021

principles and planning

I created this simple graphic as a reminder of the principles of Educational Sloyd. The sequence of learning described in it can be compared to Bruner's idea of scaffolding, but was first laid out by Diesterweg, a colleague of Friedrich Froebel. So while these principles are associated with the manual arts and Educational Sloyd, they actually fit education at large and describe the way we (even adults) learn.

These principles, reflecting how we learn present a challenge for educators. In order to start with the interests of the child, the teacher must be listening, observing and adapting continuously. And as a good teacher will know, plans can go out the window when student interests cease to be met. 

One of the reasons that rich schools are able to provide better educational outcomes is that smaller class sizes allow for personalized attention to learning needs. A good teacher recognizes the value of disruption when it can be safely directed toward learning goals and the needs of the students, which are often unrelated to the curriculum planned.

That's why teaching is much more an art than the closely scripted manufacturing exercise educational policy makers would like it to be.

While most educators face the challenge of either following or devising curriculum, we're far better off planning our own strategy for classroom engagement. Plan to listen. Plan to observe. Prepare to adapt lessons to meet needs. Hold self accountable to the principles of learning and growth.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, December 02, 2021

turned Christmas trees.

Yesterday with the Rainbow group at the Clear Spring School we made turned Christmas tree displays for holiday giving. I turned the trees on the lathe, and the students sanded and assembled the stands and decorated the trees. To make the trees I used dowels 1-1/2 in. diameter, drilled holes at each end for dowels to fit and then turned them two at a time on the lathe. A parting tool was used to cut the shaped trees apart in the middle.

Woodworking in school is a  collaborative exercise and fun for all. It's socialistic in that it fits the formula, "from each according to ability, to each according to need."  My own need is to be creatively stimulated and working out a means through which the trees could be safely turned on the lathe was my reward, in addition to seeing the kids so excited in their work.

We all need the opportunity to be creatively engaged making gifts to share with others. The Christmas tree will likely be kept by our student's families for years to come.

In addition to decorating their trees, the students decided to draw presents under each as you can see.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

a small bridge

Yesterday we installed the small bridge we'd made with students at the Clear Spring School, before getting back to making products for their pay what you want shop. The students added small toy boats, miniature Christmas trees and dreidels to their product line.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Axle pins and connectors

You can create simple connector building sets by using axle pins. They are designed for use with two sizes of drill bit and are normally used to connect wooden wheels to toy cars and trucks. The tenon will fit tightly into a 7/32 in. hole, or rotate freely in a hole drilled 1/4 in.  diameter.

At the Clear Spring School we use these as axle pins for making toy cars and also for pins to secure pivoting lids on boxes.

Drill 1/4 in. holes in pieces you want to pivot freely, and 7/32 in. holes where you want the pin to fit tight. 

I'll not show you anything further about this, as you can use your own imaginations or rely on the imaginations of your own kids. The point of course is that with a drill, some scraps of wood, and two sizes of drill bit you can build interesting things that move.

Kids love playing with blocks. The pins provide two additional things. Permanency to their creations, and the ability to have the things they've made move into new configurations. It's relatively cheap play, and so much more flexible and unrestrained in its outcome than builder kits less inviting of parental collaboration. The axle pins can be purchased here. Through Amazon smile you have the opportunity to support the Clear Spring School.

A small drill press is useful in making various parts. A workbench with vise is important for keeping hands safe.

Make, fix and create.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Build our own building Sets.

I got an advertisement via email this morning for this Brio Builder Set shown it the photo. It reminded me that many parents want their kids to be doing stuff. It also reminded me that a some parents out there have the capacity to make building sets that are far more interesting and at a much lower cost, and that offer a much higher level of collaborative fun. 

Threaded inserts are a fabulous way of making jigs and fixtures for woodworking, but they are also great for building things that can be taken apart, and put back together in new configurations.

To build a builder set for your child, make a few long joining strips with 1/4 in. holes in them, buy some 10 x 20 steel screws of various lengths and drill random holes in blocks of wood sized for the threaded inserts to fit. Start with a simple set and allow your child to describe what he or she needs for next steps.

The fun of collaboration will far surpass the joy of watching your child open a gift that consists of plastic parts and fake tools. Tomorrow I'll suggest another simple building set using wooden axle pegs.

The point of course, is that it's far better and much more fun to be a maker than a consumer, and time spent working with your kids will offer far greater rewards to all.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, November 26, 2021

Black Friday

Here we are at Black Friday again, and it seems that enough container ships coming from China made it to port and were unloaded in time to make most consumers happy with things that will fill our landfills in no time flat. The goods delivered to us from foreign manufacturers amount to trillions of dollars in cost with a balance of trade deficit that would quickly cripple a smaller nation. But few questions are asked.

Some while back, economists and policy makers decided that we'd have a service economy rather than one that relied on making the things we need. Then we entered an "information age," in which exchange of information over the television and computer screens would earn our keep. It's time a few of us call BS.

The opportunity cost of spending so much on foreign made stuff is that we've lost the character and intelligence that's derived from making things for ourselves.

Most folks just want the things we buy cheap to actually work. A news host on the radio yesterday complained that she'd bought 4 baby monitors, each one too soon after the other. What she wanted was just one that worked. She described her dismay at seeing each failed unit and its packaging going into the trash. And she complained that none could be fixed. And that is the dreadful state we're in except for a few additional effects.

Making all this stuff uses the world's resources in a wanton manner. 
Having human beings making things of poor quality is a waste of human resources wherever.
The cost of international shipping places a huge toll on our oceans and resources.
We spend a huge amount of time shopping for the same old stuff.
We learn and grow too little in the process.
We isolate our own citizenry from the natural creative processes and the feelings of empowerment they provide. 
Landfills are a scar upon our planet that will last forever, and our lives are filled with meaningless stuff.

"Not so many things, but better, must be the cry of the consumer, and things good enough to be a joy in the making must be the demand of the worker, and until these demands become peremptory we shall hope in vain for a civilization that shall be worth while." —Architect Will Price, founder of the Rose ValleyArt Colony in suburban Philadelphia.

Make, fix and create. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is Thanksgiving day and as folks gather to celebrate the holiday let's remember to stay safe and not infect those we love with a disease that may keep them from being with us in years to come.

Ironically, the celebration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday began during the Civil War in the United States as the North was fighting to abolish human slavery and the South was fighting to retain the right to hold human beings in bondage. And yet, now North and South, we celebrate and give thanks.

One of the points that I make in my new book, The Wisdom of Our Hands has to do with the small things of useful beauty that occupy our lives. 

Shopping small and avoiding the big box stores this holiday season, starting tomorrow with Black Friday, gives us a better handle on things. When we buy things that are made in our own communities and by people we know, we are not just buying stuff, we are also investing in the development of character and intelligence on a local level. Things mass produced in China, and transported in huge container ships, may have a certain beauty and cheapness, but if we are looking for true beauty, that which exists on the inside, we may find greater beauty in simple things.

Otto Salomon co-inventor of Educational Sloyd said that the value of the carpenter's work is in the object that the carpenter makes. The value of the student's work is in the student.

If you are local to Eureka Springs, we have a Pay What You Want Shop set up by the Clear Springs School parking lot. There you will find things that students made, evidence of learning and you can pay what you want. The students decided that they'll split the money they make between our local food bank, and buying play equipment for the school campus. 

We also have a free library on the other side of the parking lot that's jammed to overflowing with free books. Take lots. Please! If you are an adult, leave kid's books, please, unless you have kids. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Make, fix and create. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

a bridge

We've finished an arched bridge with student help at the Clear Spring School, and with help from my tractor and some straps we'll carry it for installation on the school campus, giving our students a clear path over a creek between buildings.

On projects like this, that are adult in nature, not every child will be involved with the same level of enthusiasm, but each can help and learn, and too few kids these days are drawn in as participants in adult labor.

In my home woodshop I'm finishing some boxes that had accumulated unfinished. Each is different, so they'll give me a way to provide boxes to a few galleries that handle my work.

When I have quiet times in the wood shop I've been listening to the Path to Learning Podcast. It is readily available through most podcast streaming services and each episode is one that I feel compelled to recommend. I'm currently listening to one with Nancy Carlson-Paige about the essential nature of play as learning. Every parent and every teacher should make use of this valuable podcast.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Humbleized. Is there a better word?

Yesterday I learned that a friend, Joe Youcha, director of Building to Teach, will write a review of my new book for Wooden Boat Magazine. Publication of the review has been approved by magazine editor, Matt Murphy. You may remember Joe as the designer of the wooden boats we made at the Clear Spring School a few years back. In his Building to Teach program schools build boats to learn math. It's based on the understanding that we learn best when we're doing real things.

Joe, having read an advanced review copy of the book, told me that he intends to buy the book for his students, his own kids, and would buy copies of the book for his own teacher if he was able, as some of those are now gone. Those teachers left profound marks on his life. And so it goes with us. We tend to think of ourselves as distinct individuals and disconnected from each other, but that's not the lesson delivered to us through our hands.

Along my own path, I've found many friends who share our understanding of things, that the hands are central to learning and growth. Unfortunately these folks tend not to be the ones who make educational policy. The hands tend to humanize and humbleize (is that a word?) It is certainly not the same thing as being humiliated.

Last week in the Clear Spring School woodshop we made color wheels with Rainbow Group, more toys in Mr. Chris's class and we installed the bat houses with Ms. Juanita's class. This week as we prepare for Thanksgiving I hope to shift attention toward building a bridge over a ditch that divides our school campus. For help in hanging the bat houses I want to thank Clear Spring alum and former student Kyle Hunnicutt and Clear Spring School father of Charlotte, Blake Durr.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, November 20, 2021

a student box

One of my students, Ray Taylor, sent me this photo of a box made by one of his students, making it obvious that we live on in the things we've taught others.

Ray teaches woodworking at the Northwest Arkansas Community College.

The following is from Felix Adler's address to the National Conference of Charities and Correction, Buffalo, July 1888 discussing the value of making a simple wooden box:

"By manual training we cultivate the intellect in close connection with action. Manual training consists of a series of actions which are controlled by the mind, and which react on it. Let the task assigned be, for instance, the making of a wooden box. The first point to be gained is to attract the attention of the pupil to the task. A wooden box is interesting to a child, hence this first point will be gained. Lethargy is overcome, attention is aroused. Next, it is important to keep the attention fixed on the task: thus only can tenacity of purpose be cultivated. Manual training enables us to keep the attention of the child fixed upon the object of study, because the latter is concrete. Furthermore, the variety of occupations which enter into the- making of the box constantly refreshes this interest after it has once been started. The wood must be sawed to line. The boards must be carefully planed and smoothed. The joints must be accurately worked out and fitted. The lid must be attached with hinges. The box must be painted or varnished. Here is a sequence of means leading to an end, a series of operations all pointing to a final object to be gained, to be created. Again, each of these means becomes in turn and for the time being a secondary end; and the pupil thus learns, in an elementary way, the lesson of subordinating minor ends to a major end. And, when finally the task is done, when the box stands before the boy's eyes a complete whole, a serviceable thing, sightly to the eyes, well adapted to its uses, with what a glow of triumph does he contemplate his work! The pleasure of achievement now comes in to crown his labor; and this sense of achievement, in connection with the work done, leaves in his mind a pleasant after-taste, which will stimulate him to similar work in the future. The child that has once acquired, in connection with the making of a box, the habits just described, has begun to master the secret of a strong will, and will be able to apply the same habits in other directions and on other occasions."

Make, fix and create... 

Friday, November 19, 2021

National Apprenticeship week

This week, November 15-21 is National Apprenticeship Week in which students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives and learning.

Otto Salomon, based on the teaching of Diesterweg and Froebel, had suggested that schools start with the interests of the child, then bridge from the known to the unknown, from the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. Apprenticeship builds in these essential areas for the development of the child as well as the economy and culture at large. I use the term bridge, rather than the way I've stated the theory in the past, because a bridge goes both ways, and we never outgrow our need to connect in both directions. For example, we never outgrow the need to connect and test our abstract learning with concrete reality. 

An unfortunate thing about education is that as a child grows through school, even at the earliest age, education becomes increasingly abstract. This is even more true today than before due to the early introduction of digital devices as means to entertain, educate and distract. For instance, while children once entertained themselves through play with scissors, hammers, nails and string, this is now rarely the case.

Imagine how well prepared our student population would be for Apprenticeships and for life if we were to pay greater attention at the outset to their need to engage in concrete reality.

If you were someone who thought schooling was a terrible waste of your time and of you were one who sat in class, bored out of your mind, please know that there are some in the world working to bring change. You'll find some of those folks at the Clear Spring School. We work to provide meaningful education for our kids, and also to serve as a roll model for what education could be for all kids, pre-k through 12th grade.

Did you know that there's a government program to support apprenticeships and a national registry where apprentices can sign up?

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Walmart has assured us...

Walmart has assured us that despite delays in shipping from overseas they will have plenty of stuff to unload in our landfills following the Christmas season holidays in which we feel compelled to give things we know are not needed or wanted and that have no real meaning either to ourselves or to those in whom we hope to induce joy. 

You might consider cutting out the middleman. And in this case, we are the middleman as we buy stuff and direct it into the landfills shortly thereafter. Most of the stuff sold during the holiday season will be discarded without having made us rich in the same ways that making items of useful beauty can, and so that should become our goal. 

I had an interesting idea this last week that crypto currency should be based on something real and that is of benefit to man, all men, and the planet itself. What you need to establish a currency is something to measure and a means of exchange. We've learned from the American dollar that currency needs not be based on something real. But the damage being done by greenhouse gasses including CO2 is enormous, affecting the rich and poor alike, even the defenseless critters and plants that inhabit our planet.

So following this line of thought, I proposed to friends that we develop a crypto currency that would aid in the sequester of carbon dioxide and preserve forests and wetlands and aid in the removal and sequester of CO2 like they are doing in Iceland. Like all good or great ideas there are others who have thought of it before me.

Mark Cuban has been investing in carbon offsets through a blockchain dedicated to exactly what I have in mind. It promises an international currency that actually benefits man, involving not the hoarding of precious resources, but by the removal and sequester of what's killing us all. This page provides some interesting links.

Will Walmart provide us a carbon neutral Christmas season? I hope they can plan that for next year.

Make, fix and create...

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Nishioka, the temple carpenter

Azby Brown, a friend in Japan offered the following comment after reading through most of my new book. 
"What I get from your book is that creative craft work gives us the opportunity to live a life worth living, and to become better than we are. This really resonates with something I’ve been thinking about and sharing with people lately. 
"The temple carpenter Nishioka was Buddhist to his bones. He didn’t talk a lot about it necessarily, unless you asked him, in which case he revealed himself as an erudite scholar. More importantly he lived it and it shaped everything he did. 
"In his tradition, the best thing a master carpenter can do is help provide a path to enlightenment for his apprentices, through devoted and meaningful work in which they can become selfless. But they never say directly that that's what they’re doing. I think the reason is connected to something you alluded to, about “spiritual competitiveness,” which is just another kind of attachment. 
"Better to just live the work."

Azby is the author of "Just Enough: Lessons from Japan for Sustainable Living, Architecture and Design" 

Make, fix and  create... 

color wheels, scissors and bat houses.

Today at the Clear Spring School we have been hanging the bat houses we made, and with the Rainbow group (kindergarten) we made color wheels. The Clear Spring School  color wheels are not the same thing as what you'd find in college art classes. They are simply a disk of wood mounted on a stand that you can color and spin, blending the colors you applied. 

It is more interesting to kids than a conventional color wheel because it's active. You can spin it and find pleasure in doing so.

A friend of mine who was teaching design at the university level was surprised when she asked her students to use scissors. She learned that both hammers and scissors were foreign tools to her kids. And so when did that happen?

In the olden days, kids entertained themselves, developing dexterity of mind and hand by making things. That seems to no longer be the case.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 14, 2021

wanting less and doing more

An editorial in Bloomberg  notes that Americans need to learn to live more like Europeans, wanting less and saving more. 
"It's become the conventional wisdom that the U.S. economy is built on Americans' endless appetite to buy lots and lots of stuff. Household consumption makes up about 67% of GDP. When the economy falters, we're told spending is our patriotic duty... But suddenly, Americans can’t spend like they used to. Store shelves are emptying, and it can take months to find a car, refrigerator or sofa. If this continues, we may need to learn to do without — and, horrors, live more like the Europeans. That actually might not be a bad thing, because the U.S. economy could be healthier if it were less reliant on consumption.We've entered an age of overabundance. We consume much more than we used to and more than other countries. Consumption per capita grew about 65% from 1990 to 2015, compared with about 35% growth in Europe."—Allison Schrager

A simple note about all that stuff. It comes in the door and then out with the trash a short time later, and we could cease being middlemen in the degradation of planetary resources if we were to change our ways. 

We may not want the economy to come to a complete instantaneous collapse, but we need to make a gradual shift in which we're doing much more for ourselves and spending less time waiting for the shelves to be restocked.

Perhaps we should learn to simply want less and learn to do more. We could save money and the planet in the same simple exercise. To start work on a new more vibrant and wholesome economy consider shopping at our student Pay What You Want Shop at the Clear Spring School. 

Our students have been learning about small business by making and marketing things made from wood. The products do not arrive on our shores in container ships. They are not made in China, contributing to our enormous balance of payments deficit. They are made from renewable materials. You can pay what you want, and if they end up in the landfill at some point just as all the other things you buy this Christmas season will, at least they were made along with the growth of character and intelligence of each child who made it.

Make, fix and create.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

an early review of my new book

I'm starting to accumulate blurbs and reviews for my new book, Wisdom of Our Hands, from various colleagues in a variety of sectors. Pete Moorhouse is an educator and artist in the UK and also the author of the book shown, Learning Through Woodwork. 

Is it rudely self-promoting for me to share what he and others have said? Which is:

"Not hard to be positive!... Wisdom of Our Hands is an exceptional book CONGRATULATIONS!!"

Review/ blurb: "This is a book full of wisdom clearly built upon a lifetime’s experience of working with wood and sharing this generously with students of all ages.

Like his woodwork this book is beautifully crafted. The book shares a secret - the wonder of working with the hands is within our grasp - it is a call to action. Doug conveys the importance and value of working with our hands for holistic learning and nurturing the soul. He hits the nail on the head while challenging the reader to hammer it home.

Doug’s breath of knowledge is vast, drawing upon historical educational pioneers and well as current thinkers. This is an illuminating book, taking us on a journey embracing both the concrete and the abstract with many beautiful observations along the way.

Highly recommended." —Pete Moorhouse Education Consultant, Author and Researcher, UK

Make, fix and create... 

Friday, November 12, 2021

forgive me this is long.

Last night I went to a 10th anniversary celebration and talk at Crystal Bridges Museum held by Alice Walton, museum founder, Rod Bigelow, museum director and Moshe Safdie, architect. Only original members of the museum were invited. The event reminded me of having met Alice Walton and the original museum director Bob Workman years ago just as construction of the museum had been launched. 

I was exhibiting my work at a craft show in downtown Bentonville. I was set up with my work in a building owned by friends Tom and Becky McCoy and Alice came by to see my work. Tom and Becky being neighbors and friends with Alice made a point of introducing us. I asked her whether she planned to have crafts in her museum of fine American art, and I suggested the work of John Townsend, Newport, RI cabinet maker that renown art critic Robert Hughes had called the very finest American Art ever produced.

Alice, having witnessed the chain sawing and bulldozing required in the preparation of the museum site asked me, noting that I was a woodworker, what they should do with the trees that had been cut. Her museum director and I were left to exchange contact information and we met in the following weeks. I connected them with a sawyer to begin milling the logs and gave instructions as to how they should be sawn to be of use to the museum and to be treasured in their use.

Being of some small use to the project gave me the opportunity to tour the site during construction. Later I received a delivery of walnut lumber to use in building a bench for the museum commemorating the roles of Sam Walton and Dr. Neal Compton in preserving the Buffalo River as a national park. Much of the land upon which the museum was built had belonged to Dr. Compton before his death. That bench is shown in the image attached.

When the museum was preparing to celebrate its first anniversary, I was asked to use some of the wood harvested from the site to make boxes for each of the museum’s original staff members. When Alice Walton saw the boxes I’d made for first year staff she asked that I also make boxes for each of their first year’s volunteers. That was one of the larger commissions of my career as a woodworker, the making of 870 wooden boxes, each from wood harvested on the Crystal Bridges museum site.

Last night was a very special night in which Alice Walton described plans for the museum’s future, as it involves crafts. With the generosity of Robyn and John Horn, the Hutchinson family and the Windgate Foundation, a major expansion of the museum is planned with a focus on crafts. Alice described crafts as the art of the people and told how she was strongly influenced in her own collecting by Eureka Springs and a small pottery here, which is of course the Spring St. Pottery in downtown Eureka Springs, founded by Gary Eagan, who was also a long-time supporter of the Clear Spring School.

All in all, it was a very pleasant night.

Make, fix and create…

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Pay what you want 2

This morning I went to add a padlock and hinges to the cash box on the kid's pay what you want shop. I found the box cleared of all student made merchandise and even some of our shop fixtures were gone. 

Not suspecting theft, I opened the cash box and found money inside. The students counted 8 dollars, seventy six pennies and 50 pesos in Mexican currency. We're counting the first day of business as a success. And in wood shop today the students made more products to sell.

make, fix and create...

Monday, November 08, 2021

Pay what you want....

During the worst of the covid pandemic when all our classes were being taught online, I made a box to allow teaching materials to be passed back and forth between home and school. 

We've repurposed that box as a temporary pay what you want shop for students to sell things they've made in woodshop and gain some insight into the world of small business. 

Today the kids moved inventory into the box. You can drive by and shop. It is unmanned but open 24 hours. At night you'll need to bring a flashlight. The kids are very excited about this project and I hope you'll join in to make it a success.  Select objects you want and put money in the box. 

The Pay what you want shop is mounted to the railing in front of the Clear Spring School office, 374 Dairy Hollow Road. To provide feedback or to request items you would like to see our students make, feel free to contact us.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Rex Nelson

Rex Nelson is one of Arkansas' most highly respected journalists. There is a great editorial in today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, resulting from the day Rex and I spent in Eureka Springs, with me having the honor of serving as his guide to the Clear Spring School and our Eureka Springs School of the Arts. The article can be found here:

Next week's paper will likely have a column about the Clear Spring School. Watch for it.

Make, fix and create...

Friday, November 05, 2021

Studio open house

I invite you to join us on Saturday November 6 for a Open House at the glass and iron studio of Suzanne Reed. I'll be selling books and boxes. The address is 1242 CR 102 and the time from 1 to 4 PM.

Make, fix and create...


Yesterday I had an interview with Ozark Public Broadcasting for their program OzarksWatch. It was great to be able to share our wonderful Eureka Springs School of the Arts as the location for the broadcast which will air in February or March. Shown in the photo are host Dr. Jim Baker, and producers Jason Ferber and Brent Slane. Either Jason or Brent will return in December to take video of my box making class in action.

I hope this increases awareness of our great school.

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, November 04, 2021

what are we willing to fix?

We know what's wrong with education in America, but what are we willing to fix? The answer, of course, is "Not much."

“The division into subjects and periods encourages a segmented rather than an integrated view of knowledge. Consequently, what students are asked to relate to in schooling becomes increasingly artificial, cut off from the human experiences subject matter is supposed to reflect.” (John Goodlad, A Place Called School, McGraw-Hill, 1984, p.266)

It should  be noted that kids are not as dumb as typical schooling assumes they might be. They are not empty vessels ready to fill with whatever beliefs and facts we can pour into them. Instead, because they are smart, they realize the differences between what we try to cram in and what they've already learned about life and reality. The artificiality that they see while sitting at desks, does not compare favorably with the real world outside the classroom walls. In other words, they know when facts and beliefs have been contrived to suit their conditions of containment and knowing that schooling is unworthy of their full attentions, they tune out.

The simple answer of course is to use the real world and projects within it to provide opportunitiies for concrete (rather than abstract) learning.

On Tuesday our outdoors study class came to my home to hang one of the bat houses we made on my barn. The installation involved my having to climb a 16 ft. ladder sliding the bat house up as I climbed to mount it on a French cleat. With the house mounted, I'll observe to see if we get bats nesting within. I'll mount a board below so I can observe the accumulation of guano and report back to the kids.

Yesterday I had my Kindergarten students in the wood shop to practice hammering nails. I provided blocks of 2 x 4 lumber and sheetrock nails for them to practice with. They asked, of course, "Can we take these home?" To carry home actual solid evidence of student learning (bent nails and all) is an important thing, and each of the students was proud of what they'd done.

Yesterday, also, we began making a bat mobile. Not the kind that Batman drives, but one that hangs from the ceiling and celebrates bats.

Today I'm meeting with  video crew and producer from Ozark Public Television to do an interview at ESSA.

Make, fix and create. We live in a real world. Let's learn like it.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Guidonian hand

A friend sent me an interesting link to Wikipedia on the Guidonian Hand. Used in Medieval music, the Guidonian hand was a mnemonic device used to assist singers in learning to sight-sing. From Wikipedia:
"Some form of the device may have been used by Guido of Arezzo, a medieval music theorist who wrote a number of treatises, including one instructing singers in sightreading. The hand occurs in some manuscripts before Guido's time as a tool to find the semitone; it does not have the depicted form until the 12th century."

Most of us have heard of the idea of tying a string around a finger to help us to remember something we might forget. The Guidonian Hand suggests the potential for our hands to be used to remember important things. It would be interesting to see a demonstration of how it was used. Perhaps by touching with the fingers of the other hand.

Our own hands may be the most underutilized parts of our anatomy as well as the most underutilized resource in American education. The Guidonian hand is certainly an example of the Wisdom of our hands.

Make, fix and create...

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Hammers for kids

Maslow had said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems look like nails." But does it make a difference what kind of hammer you have?

These are two different hammers offered by Home Depot online and one might assume the one on the right is for kids. In fact, I've seen similar hammers recommended for children's use. 

One thing you'll notice is that the one the right is shaped for an adult grip and the one on the left is a lighter weight but with the proportions of a full-sized adult hammer. The diameter of the neck is an easy grip for a child.

Which one would be better to give as gifts during the holidays while the usual Christmas paraphernalia is tied up in transit due to shipping and distribution delays?

Of course the hammer on the left is the one I advise, not just because it is hardly more than half the cost but because with a real wooden handle of appropriate length, it's a better hammer to further the child's growth. 

When kids (and inexperienced adults, for that matter) start out using a hammer they grip it close to the head as they learn better control. As their control develops and they see a hammer properly used by adults, their hand moves down the length of the hammer giving them greater strength and effectiveness in its use. 

The stubby hammer on the right is designed for adults who never had the opportunity to mature in the hammer's use. It also results in more bent nails due to its shortened arc. So even for inexperienced adults, I say, "Avoid the stubby hammer and allow for your own growth."

Due to supply problems with the traditional Christmas junk, you might consider tools for this year's holiday giving, most particularly for kids. You will have the opportunity to participate in your child's growth, and your own at the same time. 

I have two books in particular to recommend. One is my "Guide to Woodworking With Kids," and the other is "Making Classic Toys that Teach." Both can be found on

Make, fix and create...

Thursday, October 28, 2021

The start of Rainbow Group

 Yesterday we began classes for our Kindergarten students at the Clear Spring School. Our "Rainbow Group" made tops and the small hand crank drills mounted in vises allow the students to decorate them with colored pencils. In addition to the Rainbow Group class in which each student made two tops ("Do we get to keep them? They asked) the outdoors study science class made bat bats. Since my link between my blog and facebook will only load one photo or video, I've posted additional photos to my instagram account which you can find under the user name douglasstowe. To make the bat bats, magic wands through which the blessings of bats may be conferred, the kids cut out pictures of bats, glued them onto wood, and then cut them out with scroll saws before adding a stick and painting the back sides.

Path to Learning Podcast has presented an excellent interview with ballet artist and choreographer Lincoln Jones describing his use of the Froebel Blocks and gifts to stimulate his own creative path. Ballet with Blocks. As I was listening to him describing the use of the blocks to expand his own understanding of design and hearing him tell of slowing down motions to develop the greatest meaning, I learned to view our own experiment with supersized Froebel blocks as a form of ballet. If you watch the motions of the student coordinating the use of his hands to crank with one and pencil with the other you see building blocks being formed in the child's body mind. As we watch children designing collaboratively with the big blocks on the playground, we see the same thing. The link to the Lincoln Jones Path to Learning podcast should be of interest to anyone interested in design.

In my own shop I'm doing the usual, making boxes.

Make, fix and create...

Saturday, October 23, 2021

box makers...

I am one of six box makers featured on this offering from Fine Woodworking Project Guides

Boxes remain one of the best ways to learn overall woodworking techniques. My next box making article for Fine Woodworking will be photographed in the ESSA woodshop in December.

In the meantime, my new book, The Wisdom of Our Hands has made it through the copy editing process and will be headed to the printer on November 7. Hopefully, the paper supply problems will not delay the 2/22/2022 publication date.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2021

A reminder

With kids present, things do not go as planned. Yesterday we painted our bat houses made in the Clear Spring School woodshop and I failed to make clear what my intentions were, that they decorate, rather than paint the whole things. And so with milk paints in hand, they got carried away. 

It was also a reminder that I can lower my own stress level by having them paint outside rather than inside the wood shop where stray splatters of pain fall on our beautiful floor.

Note to self... Kids and paint need to be mixed in a carefully  controlled environment. In any case, the bat houses (four of them) are decorated and ready for installation and occupation by bats.

Make, fix and create...

Monday, October 18, 2021

Unhook from the supply chain...

This year supply chain problems will severely impact the delivery of mountains of Christmas time toys and stuff. That will likely impact for additional months to come, the volume of broken stuff delivered to landfills. 

Naturally President Biden will be blamed as children are deprived of meaningless stuff that would have been intended to generate Christmas time delight but that then would have been thrown out as meaningless in the months to come.

How about taking matters into our own hands. We and our kids can make the things we need and my book, Guide to Woodworking with Kids can help. It is currently scheduled to be reprinted and I'm hoping that the shortage of paper doesn't interfere with a timely delivery. 

If supply chain issues affect my Guide to Woodworking with Kids, I've been assured other books of mine are in sufficient supply. Making Classic Toys that Teach provides instructions for making Froebel's gifts and explores his philosophy for teaching kids. While Froebel is known as the inventor of Kindergarten, his methodology of learning through play applies to us all. And even adults will love working their way through this book.

And then there's box making. I have a variety of books about that.

If you want to make the coming holiday season far more meaningful than others where crap was in abundant supply, try spending time with your kids in advance of Christmas. Make gifts and toys for each other. A few tools will help, and a new hammer under the tree will bring delight. 

The photo shows a plane made by Veritas that I reviewed for Quercus magazine this last year. Sized for a child's hands and unlike the toys that go in the trash, this tool will perform for a century or more as your children grow up and share it with their kids.

Unhook from the supply chain. This is the year for it.

Make, fix and create.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

five or six Ds.

When a student in Pestalozzi's school was told to look at a picture of a ladder, the child asked, "why should I look at a picture when there's a real ladder in the shed?" "We don't have time to go out to the shed," the student was told. Later when the child was presented with the picture of a window, the child asked, why do we have to look at a picture when there's a real window right there? We don't even have to go outside to look at it." The teacher complained to Pestalozzi and was told that the student was right. Whenever possible, lessons should be based on the real world. But we confine our students to classrooms and isolate them from deeper engagement. 
 “The sensational curiosity of childhood is appealed to more particularly by certain determinate kinds of objects. Material things, things that move, living things, human actions and accounts of human action, will win the attention better than anything that is more abstract. Here again comes in the advantage of the object-teaching and manual training methods. The pupil's attention is spontaneously held by any problem that involves the presentation of a new material object or of an activity on any one's part. The teacher's earliest appeals, therefore, must be through objects shown or acts performed or described. Theoretic curiosity, curiosity about the rational relations between things, can hardly be said to awake at all until adolescence is reached.” -- William James. Talks To Teachers On Psychology: And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals. 
Much of what troubles post modern education is its artificiality. Even the pretense that it is all engineered as a benefit for our children is a distortion of the facts. The simple message should be clear. The things that most ail American education can be described as the 5 D's. We've got disinterest, distraction, disappointment, disillusionment and disruption. Some students go though 13 years of schooling without ever being disruptive, but most suffer at least from the first 4. We can add another D, for depression. It's how we all feel when recess is deprived us.

Make, fix and create...