In man there is what may be termed a “making instinct,” and our houses, garments, ships, machinery, and in fact, everything we use, are the practical results of this instinct. How important then that this faculty be cultivated, and that the idea be at once and forever abandoned that none but mechanics require this great element of usefulness and happiness.
Whatever a man’s occupation, whether he be a farmer, a merchant, an artist or a mechanic, there are hourly occasions for its practical application. Being thus general in its usefulness, the cultivation of this constructive faculty should be a primary consideration with parents. Skill in the use of tools is of incalculable advantage. It gives useful employment to many an otherwise idle hour. It prompts one to add a thousand little conveniences to the house, which but for this skill would never be made.
In a word, it is the carrying out, in a fuller sense, of the design of the Creator, when he implanted this faculty of constructiveness within us. Let it then be cultivated in children. Indulge the propensity to make waterwheels and miniature wagons, kites and toy boats, sleds and houses, anything in fact which will serve to develop it and render it practically useful.
Give the boys good pocket knives, and what is better, give them a good workshop. Employed in it, they will not only be kept out of mischief, but they will be strengthening their muscles, exercising their mental powers, and fitting themselves for greater usefulness, when they shall be called upon to take their place in the ranks of men.
Scientific American – January 9, 1864