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. Newsweek(July 19, 2010) just had an article on the decline in creativity of young children, basically, because of too much internet, computers, video and not enough problem solving
There is no better hands on activity for kids than woodworking. They 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 par excellence. Every project is full of 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 start woodworking with a new group of kids I 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’m 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.