What does a student do when they choose Woodworking as an elective but are quarantined for most of the term?

Danielle Chaput
This is part of an ongoing series about how Eaglebrook teachers and students are adapting to a new Distance Learning model.

What does a student do when they choose Woodworking as an elective but are quarantined for most of the term? The answer is lots of projects. The goal of the assignments in all of the woodworking classes, was for all students to acquire transferable skills. Each student was responsible for accessing project supplies found in their home and when it was a challenge, we put our heads together and helped each other with suggestions. In this way, problem-solving skills were put to the test. The power of observation and problem-solving skills are two of the greatest assets in woodworking.  

The goal of our first assignment in the Third and Fourth form classes was to acquire the skills and associated woodworking terms we would need to plan out our projects. Students filled out parts lists for a box found in their home, drew a plan of a self-designed box, made another parts list, and finally, constructed their box. From there we practiced paper folding techniques with each student producing a folded box or basket. We then began practicing the skills involved with following a sequential plan, just as we would in a woodworking class. Our project was a “Floating Table” made using tensegrity construction (the characteristic property of a stable three-dimensional structure consisting of members under tension that are contiguous and members under compression that are not). It was a challenging piece but all students were successful. 

Our most recent project is based on compassionate empathy. Daniel Goleman is quoted by saying, “With this kind of empathy we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them but are spontaneously moved to help if needed.” Each student chose one word that answered the question; “If I could help somebody right now, what would I do?” The word could be one of encouragement or something concrete that would help. They fashioned the letters of their word in a different font for each and then completed the project with an assemblage of the decorated letters. Amazingly, of all the chosen words there weren’t any repeats. 

For the Fifth and Sixth Forms, the initial subject matter involved answering the question of whether woodworking should be considered an art. We discussed and practiced the skills of defining, evaluating, and comparing form and style, as well as the relationship between the elements and principles of art.  Students designed their own 3D projects drew them and labeled the elements and principles they intended to incorporate into their piece. They then practiced paper folding and incorporated some of the learned techniques into a sculpture. For the most recent assignment, an overview of cubism, students completed a practice drawing and are now in the process of creating a 3D cubist style object or portrait. Our final project will be a photographic essay.

In closing, I want to say that I have been most impressed with each student’s tenacity, flexibility, humor, and overall success as we navigated this new territory together. Enjoy the students’ work!
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    • Fred C. '20 made light fixtures out of wood from his home.

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