Adults at Work

“Work is one of our most useful learning tools; children love to imitate adults at work. It is drudgery that needs eliminating, not work.”

— William S. Coperthwaite, “A Handmade Life” (Chelsea Green)

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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17 Responses to Adults at Work

  1. Kid today: What do you mean: ‘These don’t have any Apps’?

  2. ronald tibbs says:

    If you were to show this image to our lawmakers and tell them this is the way it should be in public schools again they’d ask why and tell you to send your kids to Ikea for a job. #USpublicschoolsfail

  3. Eric R says:

    I fear those days are long gone…..

  4. Stuart says:

    Reblogged this on Stu's Shed and commented:
    I remember woodworking at school. Given what I do these days as a hobby/passion, I guess it had some influence on the direction of my life.
    Wonder what kids today are getting for their influences? I hope this isn’t just a photo from the past, but what can still be seen at schools around the country.
    When I was at school, my first year of high school, I chose woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing as my optional subjects. The principal called my parents and me to his office for a chat. “He’s too bright to take three technical subjects. He needs to drop one, and take a language”.
    So I did. I dropped metalwork and took German. I failed German both years that I took it, and became an engineer. Just what message are we sending our kids? Why are technical subjects treated as a placeholder for those not expected to transition to higher education?
    I wasn’t able to continue woodworking through my secondary education (it just wasn’t available), but I continued with Technical Drawing as long as it was offered. Despite being regarded as a “non-academic” subject at school, it was still available to me at University, and for the sake of a single mark, it would have been the only subject at University that I got an A+ Wonder what direction my life would have gone if I hadn’t persisted with technical subjects?
    It doesn’t matter what subjects our kids take, so long as they are passionate about them. They will take them as far as their abilities allow.

  5. Eric Brown says:

    Perhaps all is not lost. They say if you don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, they will happen again. This could mean that there will again be manual training schools for kids. I know Roy Underhill wanted more kids in his school, but liability insurance is an issue. Damn lawmakers. Somethings gotta give. Perhaps the only way is for the parents to teach their kids themselves.
    I would suggest people such as Chris S. and Roy U. develop train-the-trainer fot the parents so that the parents could learn how first and then continue learning with their kids.
    (Anyone notice the small grip on the saw the boy to the far left is holding? Adult tools may not be the most appropriate.) Just a thought.

  6. Ray Bohn says:

    Approximately 30 years ago I had the privilege of working as a graduate student in a “Lab” school on campus. I worked with elementary through high school students in a woodworking shop. It was just the instructor and me. The instructor told me to build anything I wanted to, but stop as often as I needed to to answer questions about what I was doing or assist students.

    Visitors to our shop were amazed to see me working with elementary students on drill presses, etc. When I was asked to explain why we were exposing these children to woodworking tools. I explained the practical experience that they gained in math, science, reading, etc. Then I would say, “look at their faces – you don’t see those expressions very often in other classes “.

  7. rwyoung says:

    I would be worth money (at least the $0.32 in my pocket right now) to see your next class dress up like these kids and pose for photos!

  8. I don’t want to dump all over public education but in a related field, I would like to see kids given proper instruction in drawing and painting, rather than than the macaroni and spraypaint sessions that have been passed off as art classes for the last 45 years. It doesn’t seem right that in such a technically savvy society, the visualization skills of the even the most highly educated people don’t advance much beyond the age of 8.

  9. David Pickett says:

    Interesting – here in the UK, we have had a similar lack of regard for ‘hands-on’ subjects in State-run schools for some time, partly down to cost (teaching Modern Dance only needs an empty room, Woodwork needs lots of expensive kit and competent technicians to look after it), partly through fear of the Safety Elf and ambulance-chasing personal injury claims lawyers, and partly down to a attitude amongst the ‘Education Establishment’ that practical subjects are not worthy. Education should be ‘relevant’, apparently. (Quite what is irrelevant about making things in a world that completely depends on made things is not altogether clear to me, but there you are.)

    Some of the independent and Public schools (confusingly, in the UK ‘public schools’ are the ones you have to pay high fees to for your children to attend) take a more rounded attitude, and one in particular – Bedales – is well known for it’s practical education – market gardening, stock rearing, blacksmithing and woodworking among the core subjects.

    We’re currently having a small revolution in the State education world, with more independently-run but state-funded schools being set up, and the ‘education establishment’ being side-lined (which it is fighting bitterly). Rather early to see if this works completely, but the early signs are quite promising – some common sense may yet return to education. This is being led by the splendid Michael Gove, the current Secretary of State for Education.

  10. Graham Burbank says:

    Remember, folks, we’re all waaay to important now to work those menial manufacturing jobs. This is an information services economy. All of our children are training to be the next bill gates. If you need a plumber, call China.(or Poland, in chicagoland). We’re simply above all that. We, apparently, should never have to break a sweat or get out of the chair and still get paid $20 an hour. Case in point: my wife’s school (Art teacher, not of the macaroni type) eliminated their woodshop when the teacher retired and immediately replaced it with “engineering”, consisting of a computer lab and precious little else (ok, a tabletop cnc) . Not suprisingly, I cannot find employees with the ability to think in 3d, motivate themselves to be in by 8 and work all day, or add fractions without a calculator. The reason I support Lost Art Press with my wallet is BECAUSE of the underlying education mission.
    While helping my wife prepare a school exhibit for their 150th anniversary I dug out of their basement several pieces of furniture made in the late 1800’s by sixth graders. Immaculate dovetails, handplaned surfaces, careful attention to grain direction, drawbored joinery(blind, no less!), the skill exhibited in these grammer school pieces should shame us into recognition of how much we are losing sitting in front of this glowing idiot box. ’nuff said.

  11. michael says:

    where did you get that picture? – I think that’s me on the right.

  12. Jonas Jensen says:

    My daughter just started 6th grade 2 days ago, and she will have sloyd (sløjd in Danish) every Friday. It is a compulsory subject at the school. I guess that I am more excited about it than she is.
    So I am curious as to what kind of projects they are going to make.

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