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The joy of creativity

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by guitarbuilder, May 4, 2010.

  1. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I just read an article that was in the Parade Section of the Sunday paper. It was about a guy in Africa who built a windmill (from a magazine article or book) to generate electricity in Africa 8-10 years ago. He used semi useless junk he found around the area. His neighbors thought he was nuts for collecting the stuff they equated with garbage.
    Last friday I went back to visit my old school that I retired from. I was informed that my old program was now going to change to an engineering based curriculum. I wasn't surprised, but I guess I am mildly disappointed that the local kids will now have even less of an opportunity to learn to use their minds and hands to build stuff, as that opportunity will now go the way of the proverbial birdhouse.
    I'm sure that if it weren't for my love of "hands on" that I wouldn't have gotten involved with luthiery in the first place. I was always a hands-on kid, building and creating stuff made from junk in the garage. My dad was a "hands-on" guy too. I remember him making his own table saw out of plywood and scrap lumber. My "best" creation was an exposed electric heater made from a piece of copper wire wound around 2 nails and attached to a old lamp cord ( Thanks to fuses, I am here to type this).
    At what point will we learn that there is value to this kind of an education? I agree we need more engineers and tech types in this country, but what about that kid that doesn't fit that mold? Who will the next generation of stringed instrument builders be? Somebody who gets bored with guitar hero and wants the real thing?
    This summer will be my 30th year building guitars. I'm still not bored with it. I can't say the same thing about sanding though :).
     
  2. LocustPlague

    LocustPlague Tele-Holic

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    I assume that you taught a shop class?

    I am actually an engineer (and about as far from practical hands on visible experimentation as possible...a silicon design engineer) but I'm a hands on guy. Engineering types tend to be fairly hands on in one way or another. I was always taking things apart, putting new things together and things like that. I think the main thing that separates an engineer from any other type of craftsman is that we tend to over-analyze situations at times and wind up over-designing something when a nice simple "gut-solution" would suffice (I know this is the case for me).
     
  3. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    One of our local schools has an amazing woodshop sitting idle. They ran a job opening for 3 years and never got anyone close to being qualified. The teacher who had been there (probably magic like you Marty) had been absolutely terrific for the kids.

    Our local ag program has become more paperwork than skills (and we're in a rural area).. I guess it falls to parents to get their kids some projects to do and teach them how to use their hands...

    I've been working with my kids and some of their friends and they do genuinely enjoy working on stuff... I wish it was just a part of every person's life... it keeps you vibrant and thinking and engaged more than computing or role play games...

    I sure agree with you.
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Well at one time it was "shop", but about 25 years ago the program changed to a more problem solving one as opposed to a project oriented one. I developed it so the kids could still use the available materials in the room to solve these problems. They learned how to use the available tools and machines to transform the resources into prototypes. We did things like catapaults, hydraulic robotic arms, digital electronic projects, etc. It wasn't pick a project and we'll all make it anymore. It was a little taste of a lot of areas that kids could explore later on if they so desired. We did CAD, we had a small CNC. I tried to make it appeal to everyone. Most of my close buddies are engineers and I suppose if things were to have gone as planned, I might have gone the Electrical Technology Engineering route myself. It was a chance meeting with an IA dropout during lunch my 2nd year of college that caused me to switch programs. He told me all the cool stuff he had done in his program and there was no turning back for me. Going through high school, nobody had ever bothered to ask me what I liked to do, they just said " your going to college" so take college bound classes.
    I always encouraged kids if they liked what we were doing to consider pursuing it further later on.
     
  5. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

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    I've alluded, on my build thread, to the numerous vises, spokeshaves, and handplanes I inherited from my school's defunct shop program.

    The reason there was even a chance to inherit the tools is that one of my colleagues (a history teacher like me) had begun to use the old shop facilities to run a program he'd developed that teaches history by having the students build Viking-era ships, houses, weapons, etc. He integrated timber-framing, carving, and CAD, and even had his students prepare and present grant proposals, weapons demonstrations, and (yes) even early-medieval music, featuring an acoustic guitar and a mandolin.

    Fantastic program. The students dig it. He gave me the tools, he said, because he couldn't bear to see a fully-equipped high school shop just sit there and rust away, knowing it would never come back. He's gratified that I'm using the tools.

    Sad story, I think. There's a place for hands-on education, as any public-school teacher can tell you. Many students really benefit from that kind of course, which is a truth often forgotten in the "get every kid into college" drive.

    JMO, of course, and perhaps off-topic.
     
  6. Michael Allen

    Michael Allen Tele-Meister

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    Real guitars are for old people.

    But seriously, I'm 24 and have been building amps and effects since 8th grade. Guitars coming this summer... I have not yet met another person who built stuff. Like anything. No one knows how to build anything or use any tools, has no idea what it means to macguyver something. I'm afraid you are correct in your ideas about this kind of thing going by the wayside.

    My dad is an engineer (I'm a microbiologist) and I grew up having to do his car work for him just so I could learn how it all worked. Made me take apart the lawnmower until i figured out how to fix it. These days I'm doing a lot of repairs on friends cars, building friends amps, constantly getting praised because "I didn't know you could even do that! I thought it was all made in China!"

    On a side note, I never had video games growing up. I think that is the death of our generation in terms of using your actual brain.
     
  7. LocustPlague

    LocustPlague Tele-Holic

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    I think it is far too complicated to assign the death of creativity to any one factor. There will always be creative people who want to understand deeper than is conventional. However, I think it is much less of a necessity than it used to be. For quite some time, many people couldn't afford to go buy a new toaster -- you either fixed it yourself, had it fixed for you, or you went without. Similar for your car and other things.

    I think it is just easier for people who aren't TRULY interested to find something else to occupy their time with. I've always played video games but I've also always been one of the more creative types out of all of the people that I know.

    The world is changing. Technology is definitely making it easier for people who don't want to work with their hands to keep their hands clean -- however, it also provides TONS of great information quite easily for those who do.
     
  8. dlabstudio

    dlabstudio TDPRI Member

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    i do really feel bad for kids getting an education now, more in terms of what they will not be taught. the schools i went to had excellent vocational programs and honestly for many kids it was a great relief from the 3 r's to use a different part of your brain and use your hands and do something that was tactile, shop gave me something to look forward to during math. my daughter, who could read and write (in longhand no less) in 2 langauges by 6 thanks to an excellent school that excels at turning out miniature adults, will never take shop, never take home economics or courses similar because they are not offered and any thing that is remotely close, are offered as after school programs when really, the poor little buggars are to tired to muster up any interest. this really was a thought provoking thread as it has made me realize that i really took a lot for granted in terms of knowledge and experience that was passed along by instructors.
     
  9. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    My dad loved the garage. He and I made all kinds of stuff there, including speaker cabinets Fender style and Voice of the Theatre style. Whenever my friends came over, they would wind up in the garage with me and my dad, as he taught us something about something. Whenever I have reconnected with these friends, after my dad died, they all said how much they learned in the garage with my dad.
     
  10. iansmitchell

    iansmitchell Tele-Afflicted

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    The education system is failing because it seems motivated to do only two things-Pass the bill(toward college) and not get sued(so don't teach anything).
     
  11. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Doctor of Teleocity

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    +1000!
     
  12. Picton

    Picton Friend of Leo's

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    Due respect, but I'm a teacher. And I profoundly disagree. This isn't really the place to tell you why, but suffice it to say that your analysis seems pretty simplistic to me.

    Maybe I'm just lucky, but I know I can say nearly anything I want in class and not get sued. Fear of lawsuits, from this teacher's perspective, matters not a whit in terms of curriculum.

    Again, maybe I'm just lucky. But I'd still avoid making sweeping generalizations. An opinion about the importance or lack of importance in arts/industrial education is one thing; a blanket statement that reduces the entire complex issue of education reform to two soundbytes is quite another.

    Just my $.02. Let's get back to building guitars, shall we?
     
  13. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I'll just say this and then move on. We have problems within our culture that need fixing and unless you have direct involvement with education, you have no idea of what is going on. The media is quick to point out all the negative and only occasionally will discuss the positive.
    People need to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming it on everybody else.
     
  14. Engraver-60

    Engraver-60 Friend of Leo's

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    Liability - the killer of the true hands-on eduactaional system. Here's the story as I have heard it. I grew up in Detroit in the golden age of industrial arts, and we had phenomenal resources funded by the auto industry minded families. We made stuff. Junior High School woodshops, metal shops, etc., and onto High School shops, etc. Many years later, sometime in the '80's, I heard the tale that some long-haired youth (I was one, too) did not have his hair restrained and got caught up in a grinder, and got scalped. From then on the Detroit Public Schools were so afraid of their liability risks, they removed the shops entirely.
     
  15. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I would be a liar if I didn't say that the liability and safety issue wasn't a huge factor in my decision to retire. It got to the point where I had to analyze how a kid could hurt themselves while an active participant , and I felt I had to document my lessons to ensure that I covered it. Luck was on my side that I didn't have more than a minor cut or bruise in the last 25 years. Safety glasses, pushsticks, safety zones, and more instructor attendance at the bandsaw while students operated it, all helped in this regard. Having to document common sense things like "don't stick your hand in a saw while it is operating" is nutty, but required in the world we created. This took a lot of the " fun" out of my job and added to my stress level.
     
  16. getbent

    getbent Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Patently false in the school district where I was school board president. Patently false in the school districts where I was in senior leadership.

    The biggest challenges to the programs were finding qualified staff and the cost of the program (student to teacher ratio) Bottom line: Requirements and 'unfunded' mandates made a difficult situation more difficult but the lack of industrial arts teachers being produced by colleges of education made the continuation of programs.

    to some of the other posters....

    It has always been a curiosity to me that while I've been to a doctor, I don't really know what it would take to be one, but folks who went to school sure seem to know what it would be like to be a teacher.

    Really great teachers live in our neighborhoods. If you can think of a teacher who changed your life, who put in time to help you... that person is the 'they' in 'they don't know what they are doing' 'they suck' 'they are the problem'...

    I've taught my kids to paint. One of the first lessons is "if you paint with too broad of a brush, you will be done really fast, but you'll miss the details and if you do try to get it right, you'll spend more time fixing your initial mistake (painting with too broad of a brush) than the benefit you got from using it in the first place.

    Education is really difficult since each product (student) going through the machine (the schools) is a different size, of different quality, with different needs and with different purposes.

    "People need to accept responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming it on everybody else." This is spot on!
     
  17. Mojotron

    Mojotron Poster Extraordinaire

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    I know what you mean about shop programs - I had an electronics shop class in HS that launched me into a life pursuit that I've found fascinating - I learned to learn from that class.

    I'm an engineer and I was one of those kids that took apart everything - including other peoples stuff - just to see how it all worked and if I could make one myself. I was not that great of a student all the way from 1st grade through high school, but I was really motivated by wanting to know exactly how tubes worked and how to make my own amps/effects. When I got to college it was like being in a creativity playground. Now, decades later it still baffles me how imaginative and creative the people I work with are. It's a great profession for a creative person that loves calculus, but like any profession - you have to choose your work environment to suit you and it's not for everyone.

    I did do 6 years as a technician before I went back to school to get an engineering degree and that work was not that exciting to me. But, the work I did after I got an engineering degree was really cool.

    I'm not sure about schools today, but I know my kids are getting a much better education than I did in the same school system. So, some things have improved here.
     
  18. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    When I was a freshman in shop class, the first day the teacher passed around a baggie containing some hairy stuff. After everyone handled it the teacher told us it was a the scalp and hair of a former student that got his long hair caught in a drill press.
    He told us he didn't care how long our hair was, just keep it restrained. He was pretty cool.
     
  19. Marc Rutters

    Marc Rutters Tele-Afflicted

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    There must have been at least one dork who got his hair caught in the drill press in every town around the country or this is a story that got modified by shop teachers to scare the students into safety practices. In Tucson we had a picture of a scalped kid hanging next to the drill, Mr Braun our teacher told us it happened at Rincon High School a couple years before and explained the importance of being aware of tragic possibilitys and what ifs.
    I have to admit that image is in still in my mind and the lesson has saved me from injury more times than I'll ever know. Mr Braun was a Great teacher he was there for the kids that needed direction while pushing us creative ones to run with it, looking back I realize confidence was his best lesson. Loosing our shop classes is a sad state of affairs weather it be lack of qualified teachers or liability overkill, possibly an anticipation of outsourcing to... other country's with fewer lawyers to citizen ratios.
    We all have the ability to be teachers and if you have the opportunity to teach a kid some things building, playing whatever the reward goes both ways believe me.
     
  20. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    There must have been at least one dork who got his hair caught in the drill press in every town around the country or this is a story that got modified by shop teachers to scare the students into safety practices NOT just one.... My metal shop neighbor constantly removed hair from his hand drills, although not a scalping, I imagine there was some pain involved. I know of quite a few ER stories from neighboring schools and my own coworkers. They did help reinforce the lessons some.
    Even back in the 70's, the number of kids going to college for IA was a lot less than any other Ed. curriculums. You could start off with twice the pay by going into industries ,at least around here.
     
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