From an early age children begin to express their will by exploring the use of their hands. It is with their hands that they begin to develop other faculties. Accomplishment and joy are the rewards achieved through the wisdom of each activity.
“To do, to be active, is Man’s noblest calling.”
Woodworking begins in the fifth grade. In this grade students experience the full process of woodworking, within which the children review botany, especially the various types of wood, and learn the use of hand tools and woodworking techniques. While working with wood, children’s senses are awakened, hands begin to strengthen, hand-eye coordination improves, and with repetition, their ability to sustain focus slowly increases. Patience and attention to detail emerge.
In the sixth grade, students learn to accurately use both ruler and compass to refine their measuring skills. They are expected to create projects using the sense of touch, an approach that allows them to express their feeling through manual arts. Students shape and form the object with the help of simple hand tools. Through hand-eye coordination in fabricating the object, the students develop the strength of hand and stamina of will necessary for personal growth. During the sixth grade year, students are also introduced to the history of woodworking. They are each assigned a research report and an oral class presentation on an aspect of this topic.
The grade seven woodworking curriculum and projects emerge from the students’ study of the ages of discovery and exploration. This year, there is an increased emphasis on the importance of rules and regulations, developing clearer communication skills, and becoming more independent and willing to explore new boundaries. Adolescent students are in search of clarity and truth, and they now meet the world around them by asking: “Why?” They desire and benefit from both mental and physical challenges. The projects this year focused on developing the students’ will forces, critical thinking, patience, team building and performance, and personal management of time.
In the eighth grade, students are able to experience the culmination of all their previously acquired woodworking knowledge and skills. They have become more acutely aware of the physical world around them and how they, as physical bodies, move within that world. In response to this maturation, the eighth grade project is selected both to challenge and expand the skills that the students have developed over their four years of woodworking. The project is layered with detailed processes and problem solving and requires each student’s consistent focus, keen accuracy, creativity, and most of all, patience. The eighth grade class is currently working with inlay patterns made from thin veneer. Some students are making journals covered with thin plywood and leather, others are building boxes with a plywood lid. In both projects the plywood holds the inlay design. The rich fiber and color of the veneer come to life as the student sands and buffs the surface with beeswax. These items will be available for your viewing in the woodwork
room on Grandparent’s Day.
This article was originally printed in the April 2013 Garden Breeze Newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.
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