Picasso famously said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” His point was that kids usually come to a place when the confidence they have in their ability to draw or create dwindles. This usually coincides with the end of the grammar stage, when the ability to compare work critically emerges. The joy of creating can become a frustrating endeavor as the desire to reach a perceived standard bumps up against skill limits. If artistic growth is not fostered, that spark can be extinguished in a child. We must fight against this trend.
Intentionally engaging in handcraft with children offers tremendous positive benefit for everyone. It’s been said that if you can’t explain a concept to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. Distilling a skillful operation down to basic terms can turn the lights on for us as well as our young audience. Children delight in asking “why?,” while we as adults perhaps don’t ask that question enough. Why do we cut tails first? Why do we hold our chisel that way? We realize how much we don’t know when confronted with a simple, innocent inquiry.
–Joshua A. Klein and Michael Updegraff, excerpt from “Tools for Learning: Woodworking with Young Children” in Issue Five