Issue Five: Tools for Learning - Woodworking with Young Kids

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Tools for Learning: Woodworking with Young Kids
By: Joshua A. Klein & Michael Updegraff

The passing of hand skills from one generation to the next has been a basic part of humanity from time immemorial. Parents teaching children, masters guiding apprentices to make the necessities of life and to grow in both proficiency and the understanding of materials and forms. Children are hard-wired to create, and the task of guiding kids in their creative explorations has always fallen on us: mentors, teachers, and parents. 

In this day and age, educational models are increasingly moving away from skill- and trade-based pursuits towards digital technology. STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) has been given priority over shop class, and teaching students to work with their hands now primarily involves a wireless mouse or iPad. Kids spend hours crafting elaborate digital worlds online while the ability to actually make and fix real stuff is quickly fading.

Joshua Klein and Michael Updegraff seek to tackle this problem head-on, with a practical approach to introducing the children in our lives to woodworking. As craftspeople, we are all passionate about what we do, and it’s our responsibility to share this creative spark with the kids in our sphere. The authors look back on historic approaches to teaching the basics to young kids, gleaning insights from the Classical Method of ancient times to the Educational Slöjd of the late-19th century. 

Tapping the successes and failures (hey, it happens) of other teachers as well as their own, the authors seek to put forth a blueprint for spending intentional time sharing woodworking skills with our kids. They write, “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, simple 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 I hold my chisel that way? We realize how much we don’t know when confronted with a simple, innocent inquiry.”

We hope you’ll be inspired to jump into the fray and seek to mentor the kids in your life, passing on the craft that you love. If we don’t do it, who will?

The next Issue Five article announcement comes Monday…


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