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Woodwork in schools

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dickm

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Interesting attempt by Viscount Linley in today's UK Independent to re-start the Craft/Design/Technology debate. He wants woodwork to be reintroduced to schools, not surprisingly. But not much chance, I fear!
 

Alf

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For the curious: link.

I learnt to draw, which I try to encourage the boys who work for me to do.
Oh aye? No girls? Tsk, tsk.

I set up in business immediately after Parnham as a designer-maker. I was fortunate at first to join a workshop with three others in an old bakery in Dorking. Then I moved to the New Kings Road in London. Now I have a medium-sized business employing 38 people and turning over £5.5m to 6m a year.
He's also rather fortunate in his family connections, which may go some way to also explaining his turnover... :roll:

I'm all for a wider range of opportunities to be made available in schools, including woodwork for the academically gifted too, but having a "woodworker" suggest nothing but woodwork just sounds parochial and too easily dismissed as someone banging on about their own speciality - which it is. Nil points from the judge in Cornwall. [-X Thanks for bringing our attention to it though, Dick. :)

Cheers, Alf
 

MikeW

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dickm":yc2r3zau said:
Interesting attempt by Viscount Linley in today's UK Independent to re-start the Craft/Design/Technology debate. He wants woodwork to be reintroduced to schools, not surprisingly. But not much chance, I fear!
Hi Dick,

Same here. All sorts of arts are gone, never to resurface within the public school system.

The topic gets tossed about from time to time. Nothing really ever comes to it. Instead, what money there is goes to sports programs--where the few benefit at the expense of the many who would otherwise go into the art programs.

My wife and I are looking into leasing another, larger building for the woodworking business. While we would be leasing bench space and use of machinery for adults, we would open the shop for area youngsters to come and learn not only woodworking, but some other crafts as well.

I've solicited many older retired people who are quite good at communicating their crafts to others. I've talked with local schools who are willing to help promote this approach.

Still looking for some private funding help as well as drawing up a business plan to take to some lenders. Just seems to take so much time and money. Most of the money hassles are in the area of insurance. Time will tell.

I wish whoever is attempting this in your area my best.
 

wizer

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i think its a great shame that WW/CDT/etc is being withdrawn on mass from the curriculum. When I was at school (10yrs ago) i foolishly rejected anysort of class like this. Oh how I regret it!


:(
 

trevtheturner

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Hi Mike,

All good wishes for your success with what sounds like an extremely worthwhile new venture. Sorry, though, I can't help you with private funding. :cry:

Cheers,

Trev.
 

trevtheturner

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Having read Viscount Linley's article I cannot find anything in it that I disagree with. He is not advocating the inclusion of woodwork at the expense of other subjects. Certainly he has 'the right connections' and has no doubt used them, but who wouldn't in his position - I'm sure I would. Nevertheless, he has learned how to make extremely high quality furniture and successfully manage his business.

I doubt that his comments will achieve much but would anybody object to the re-introduction of woodwork classes in schools? I wouldn't.

Cheers,

Trev.
 

Midnight

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I doubt that his comments will achieve much but would anybody object to the re-introduction of woodwork classes in schools? I wouldn't.
Re-introduction of skill based education is long overdue, why else would we need to "import" tradesmen from the eastern block? But to formally introduce it would take someone with enough foresight to anticipate a need for them in future, and enough backbone to admit that allowing the classes to drop from the curriculum was just plain dumb...

Never gonna happen... Can't have kids exposed to potentially harmful things like tools... heaven forbid... someone might sue..

More than that however, it'd need a huge change in social values; for reasons totally alien to me, society sees "hands on" engineers, tradesmen et al as somehow socially inferior to collar-n-tie wearing seat polishers... What gives...?????

Then there's the prob of getting the kids themselves to buy into it.. For years they've been pumped with the concept that homehow, life owes them; they're gonna just breeze through school, go to uni and study some obscure degree and instantly fall into a £50k+ job with the flash company car, and nobody's telling them that life simply isn't like that...

Or is it me that has the outa-date ideas??
 

tim

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Midnight":3ht8ho1x said:
More than that however, it'd need a huge change in social values; for reasons totally alien to me, society sees "hands on" engineers, tradesmen et al as somehow socially inferior to collar-n-tie wearing seat polishers... What gives...?????

Then there's the prob of getting the kids themselves to buy into it.. For years they've been pumped with the concept that homehow, life owes them; they're gonna just breeze through school, go to uni and study some obscure degree and instantly fall into a £50k+ job with the flash company car, and nobody's telling them that life simply isn't like that...

Or is it me that has the outa-date ideas??
Mike, I think that that those two points are absolutely spot on and where Linley's argument falls over. He talks of running a medium sized business, which is true in terms of all business but I would suggest that he also runs one of the largest (if not the largest) cabinet and furniture making businesses in the UK. If £6m is all that a top industry firm can expect to turnover (a meaningless measure to use IMO) then it doesn't show a huge market opportunity.

There are valid reasons to teach more hands on subjects in school for a whole host of reasons but if it is to be as a stepping stone to a viable career then there has to be a fundamental shift in the market and consumer desire to purchase the fruits of their labour.

Re Mike's first point about treatment of craft related workers, I couldn't agree more. I find it extraordinary when dealing with some customers. What I have found is that, if evident, this level of disdain or lack of respect is usually demonstrated by the 'paid for' member of the household who has probably not worked for some time (if at all). This is often the wife (no dig at women in general) of a wealthy businessman ie someone who can afford bespoke furniture. These people elevate themselves to a position equal to their partner's staning in the business world and use that as a platform from which to talk down to 'tradesmen'. Interestingly, when meeting the husbands there is no affectation or disdain. I view it more as a failure of that individual's good manners and leave it at that. This isn't a generalisation but based on specific examples, no reflection on all wives of wealthy businesmen etc and I would say that most people I come across are very well meaning and pleasant to deal with.

One final point - If you have contacts and you fail to use them then you are a muppet. If your contact list includes the reigining monarch, then lucky you!

Cheers

Tim
 

Alf

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Oh I'm not saying he shouldn't use his connections (although the Earl and Countess of Wessex might query the double standards...) but it seems likely it makes his experience of the demand for his work less than the norm.

tim":18xoloco said:
There are valid reasons to teach more hands on subjects in school for a whole host of reasons but if it is to be as a stepping stone to a viable career
Ah-hah! Now that's a point. Why should that be the case? Learning something from which to make your living only seems to apply to the practical, hands-on, "vocational" subjects. No one demands someone taking History should only do so if they plan to be a historian, do they? On that basis, the fact that taking all these exams seems to teach you just one thing - how to take exams - should mean only people who are going to spend their professional lives taking exams should do them! Then there's the whole idea practical subjects are only for the "less academically able". Fie and forsooth, why?! Don't the brainy have need for bookshelves? Don't their taps ever leak or their hair need cutting? Aaargh, this is turning into a rant about education again; I'm sorry. I just wish everyone would stop trying to pigeonhole everybody else; so yes, I agree with Linley that more choice is essential.*

Cheers, Alf

*As long as you're allowed to choose it. I had a monumental battle to be allowed to take Art instead of Latin at school. I was even accused of deliberating failing a test in order to change. :roll: Fact was I just wasn't very good at Latin, but I was supposed to be "academically bright", god help me, and Art was for the "less bright". Giving it up put paid to my plans for a career as a Roman senator though... #-o :lol:
 

tim

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Ah-hah! Now that's a point. Why should that be the case? Learning something from which to make your living only seems to apply to the practical, hands-on, "vocational" subjects. No one demands someone taking History should only do so if they plan to be a historian, do they? On that basis, the fact that taking all these exams seems to teach you just one thing - how to take exams - should mean only people who are going to spend their professional lives taking exams should do them! Then there's the whole idea practical subjects are only for the "less academically able". Fie and forsooth, why?! Don't the brainy have need for bookshelves? Don't their taps ever leak or their hair need cutting? Aaargh, this is turning into a rant about education again; I'm sorry. I just wish everyone would stop trying to pigeonhole everybody else; so yes, I agree with Linley that more choice is essential.*
Alf - agree with you entirely and that was my point and meant to include that in my post but got disturbed by upset labrador in ' thunder is out to get me' type episode. Education seems to be no longer that ie Education but a series of subjects that must have some examinable merit to be considered worthy in today's schools. Hence the loss of craft subjects, sport etc.

I don't mean that a subject must have a career at the end of it but that is the way children. parents and schools seem to be being led/ leading when decisions are made about which subjects to study/ teach. So it follows (in my mind) that unless an industry opportunity can be demonstrated then I don't see how this sort of subject will get back on the curriculum.

Cheers

Tim
 

Alf

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tim":20aagogn said:
So it follows (in my mind) that unless an industry opportunity can be demonstrated then I don't see how this sort of subject will get back on the curriculum.
In the present educational climate, alas yes, I agree. As is so often seems to be the case these days, we must spend time and energy on curing the symptoms and not the disease. :(

Oh, and tell the lab the thunder isn't out to get him/her. It's definitely after me; I'm certain of it. 8-[

Cheers, Alf
 

beech1948

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I'm a bit late catching up with this one.

I run a small business with a t/o of less than £3m. Linleys T/o of £6m is still a small business and certainly not a medium sized one.

The UK Government, bless 'em, define a medium sized business as having a t/o of greater than £40m and more than 500 employees.

The EU states it is £50m

The US states around £50m, well the dollar is a bit plastic at the moment.

So Linbley has achieved the first 6th of the ladder towards becomeing a medium sized business. Just goes to show that small is in the mind of the speaker...
 

ColG

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Interesting post.

I've got three kids (well they're the adults and I'm the kid!!)

My two eldest are at mainstream and following the normal curriculum with exams, study etc. My eldest took something called Resistant Materials for her GCSE which from what I could tell was Rech Drawing, Woodwork, a bit of Working with Plastics and the theory of tools, materials etc. Quite an extensive course. When I viewed the range of items submitted as examination pieces, I didn't think it anywhere near matched the range in terms of innovation and/or quality to the pieces submitted when I was at school some 25 years ago.

However, the main point of my post is this. My son attends a school for kids with special needs. These kids range from pupils with moderate to severe learning difficulties. Thi year we attended a meeting to dicsuss his options for the next 5 years to take him through to 19. I was impressed with the schools and authorities approach. The emphasis was firmly on LIFE SKILLS not academia. Some of the skills they will be taught may seem pretty mundane to you or I but will be important to enabling them to lead fulfilling lives.

I thought to myself how much more useful this approach would be to many kids in main stream schools. My daughters are very bright as are some of their friends however, I feel they lack a certain common sense when dealing with everyday practical issues.

Anyway, just my two pennies worth.

Cheers


Col

PS

I agree with the sentiments about the "trades" being looked down upon by some members of humanity - I try to rise above it (well sometimes I try to rise above them and talk down to them using techno babble) and get my satisfaction by doing an outstanding job. BTW, I'm an Internal Refurbishment Specialist (Kitchan and Bathroom fitter to yu 'n' me!!
 
A

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As Col points out, resistant materials seems to have replaced woodwork/metalwork etc.
My three kids have all made stuff from wood metal and plastic, the idea seeming to be that they use them all within a project and in some cases, try and work some mechanics into it (a garden whirlygig was one)
I'll be perfectly honest, each and everything they have made is dreadful, not because they don't put any effort in, but because the teachers seem to be looking for usage of materials rather than finesse.
I'd much prefer a return to the old ways where you were taught how and why a particular joint was used and practiced it before a project was started. Backed up with technical drawing, kids whether woodworking or metalworking, had good standing to move into the industry and gain apprenticeships. Long gone i'm afraid, and speaking to my bricklaying brother a few days ago, building sites are not too concerned about actuaql skill levels, more obsessed with Health and Safety, with induction courses before you set foot on site, safety officers calling for hats, boots, jackets etc, but when the site is behind, waiting on scaffolders etc, all of a sudden, safety goes conveniently overlooked because the penealty clause target is looming...
Moving on to Lord Linley, I remember a feature on him a few years back enitled 'A day in the life of the Royal Chippy' (or something like it) and it had him down as getting up at 8am, breakfast, shower then off to work at 10am on his bicycle. Arrive at work, read post etc until 12 noon, quick spin round the workshops, speak to clients and then off home on the bike, getting home exhausted(!) about 4pm. Poor bloke, it must be murder!
Quite right as Tim said though, if you fail to use your connections, you are a fool. Does help shift his gear, had he been a bog standard 'minion chippy' I doubt very much he'd sell as much, and he might have to get up earlier and go home later!
Those same people who Midnight correctly refers to wouldn't think twice about parting with an exhorbitant amount of cash for his stuff, yet if it was myself or others on this site asking the same amount? Somehow I doubt it!
Example? Call from a complete stranger who i'd been recommended to as a 'friend of a friend of a friend'.
They wanted a postbox to leave outside for bigger envelopes etc, out of pine, about 650x500x300mm, sloping roof, door, small good quality cylinder lock.
I worked it out at about £50 for materials, and about 4 hours work, so £100. (certainly £12.50 per hour for a trained workman( :shock: ) along with all the tools needed to make it an achievable target within that time is a bargain nowadays) The sound of customers jaw hitting the floor when I phoned them with the price was interesting to say the least!
They said can they call me back later, and did so, asking if that included screwing it to the wall. I agreed, made it, fitted it and they are very pleased, and I think having seen it, now realise the amount of work involved. (appreciate it? I doubt it!)
Funnily enough, the husband is a business man, wife doesn't work, they live in a house worth probably 3/4mil or more, drives an Audi TT, need I go on?
I bet they don't tip the paperboy or postman at Christmas either!!!
I assume the Royal Chippy would have been welcomed with open arms...(as long as it was between 10 and 4!) :wink:

Rant over!
Cheers,
Andy
 

Midnight

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I'll be perfectly honest, each and everything they have made is dreadful, not because they don't put any effort in, but because the teachers seem to be looking for usage of materials rather than finesse.
SWMBO's eldest grandson went through that course a couple of years back. Every other weekend he'd come visit, see how things were doing in the shop, shoot the breeze before eventually getting around to askin what he came for in the first place... advise on some technique or whatever...

His project sounded like it had a ton of potential... said he was doing fine with it; guaranteed an A when it was done... then his class mates got at it... week after week he'd have to spend longer fixing sabotage rather than making progress... Eventually he gave up on it after finding it smashed for the 4th week running... got to the stage where he figured "what's the point??"...

God knows what they had for tools there, but apparently my motley collection left their school shop for dead... blunt chisels, blunt files, chipped blades in block planes... weren't allowed to use the few power tools they had...

Eventually I had to agree with him... when yer denied the chance to learn how to use the proper tools properly... what's the point...????????
 
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