Woodworking, is not "just" woodworking

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Blog entry by Jack McKee posted 02-21-2017 04:36 PM 1298 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch


When I was about 50 I wrote my first little book, Builder Boards. I started writing in the morning, and I’d have lunch around noon. Then I’d work for another hour, but that was it. I found if I was trying to finish up a chapter and worked longer, nothing would get done. After a certain point I could write no more. However, if I went down to my shop and did something, anything, those things I’d been writing often fell into place and I’d be ready to go the next day. Which made me wonder, “were all those interminable afternoons in school a waste of time?” Did anybody else have this experience?

Woodworking is not just woodworking

Kids need Hands On. Many like me, most engineers, woodworkers, electricians and designers can’t think without it. We are Kinesthetic learners. But in the last couple decades, with competition from computers, videos, video games, school cutbacks, and emphasis on academics, hands on activities get short shift. Articles come out all the time now documenting the the decline in creativity of young children, basically, because of too much internet, computers, video and not enough problem solving. What better problem solving than woodworking?

You can almost see the wheels turning.

KIDS learn to use tools which leads to the empowering idea that if you want something which you can’t find or buy (or afford) then you can build it. Woodworking teaches things are connected; you can’t alter one part of a project without affecting the other parts. Kids learn things can be fixed and altered. Woodworking teaches the beginings of design. Kids in a hurry learn to slow down, those who want teacher approval for everything learn to be more independent, those who think they can’t build anything learn they can, those who think they know all about building learn they don’t. Amazingly, this all happens in just a few classes. Woodworking is problem solving on steroids with every project is full of its own problems. Kids see the results of their decisions almost immediately (no tests involved) and without an adult having to say much, if anything at all.

Not that long ago every high school, middle school and many elementery schools offered woodworking. Not any more. So its left to parents, grandparents and isolated outposts of Boys and Girls clubs, park departments, churches, daycares, and private schools to teach woodworking. Every year that I started woodworking with a new group of kids I’d think, “maybe this year they won’t be interested; maybe this year there is just too much competition from electronic gadgets.” And every year, I’d be amazed and surprised, again, that kids still like woodworking. Actually, they LOVE it. For kids, there is just some magic about taking a few tools, some wood and creating a project. And its the most interesting, fun, and meaningful woodworking I’ve ever done.

-- Jack,

3 comments so far

View Sylvain's profile


1352 posts in 3718 days

#1 posted 02-23-2017 09:02 AM

You might like Doug Stowe blog: Wisdom of the hands

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Jack McKee's profile

Jack McKee

27 posts in 1681 days

#2 posted 02-23-2017 05:26 PM

Thank you. I love his site.

-- Jack,

View Marcial's profile


209 posts in 1764 days

#3 posted 02-24-2017 05:33 AM

Good on you, Jack. Kinesthetic learning is a well recognized aspect of medical training and learning. One aspect of craft that is often forgotten as a learning experience is that if it was well done it’s obvious and if not, there’s no way of BSing your way around it.

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