Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Woodworker Article

In the January 2008 issue of American Woodworker there is an article about a high school trigonometry teacher who in 1995 had classes "filled with college-bound students that could not calculate fractions or read a tape measure." This teacher concluded that the reason the students struggled with basic math was because they did not understand how numbers worked. The students had very little experience with numbers outside the realm of abstract classwork which was detached from the experiential context of the hands on physical world they lived in.

The shop program had been shut down in 1993 after the shop teacher that had began teaching the classes in 1963 had retired. But after a few years the math teacher himself investigated and followed through with reopening the wood shop as part of the math program. He and others now teach a class called Design and Construction. Many groups see the importance of having students involved with hands on projects and have come along side to help advance the program.

The math teacher who turned to shop teacher says in this article:
"I've learned that teaching woodship is harder work than teaching math. The students are more demanding, the stress level is much higher, and keeping the machinery running is a fulll-time job. However, teaching woodshop is the most rewarding thing I have ever done. I see the kids learning at rates I have never seen before. Every new batch of woodshop students reminds me of the importance of hands-on practical learning and reinforces my opinion that woodshop (or any manual-arts class) is essential for every student."
The importance of students having hands on experiences with material and academic information is more important than we realize. I appreciate the math teacher's comments above, but, of course, I think all teachers deal with demanding students, stress levels and the need to manage the day to day up keep of their class rooms. I would just rather deal with these in the shop.

a related blog

Mr. Wiemers

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