I love talking to kids about what I do, and even more so when some of them turn out to already be working with wood.
Any opportunity I get to talk to or work with kids, I jump at the chance. I recently spoke to four sets of fifth graders at a local elementary school’s career day about what I do for a living. I was billed as a “writer/editor,” but because pretty much all I do revolves around woodworking, that was also something I talked a lot about.
Fifth graders are at just the right age. They’re still young enough to be excited about new things, and not yet old enough to be thoroughly obnoxious. They listened in rapt attention, asked lots of questions and, in general, seemed to enjoy my presentation.
The best part was that some of the questions I got weren’t about writing at all, but about woodworking. A few had parents with workshops, and they were eager to share their experiences with tools and talk about the projects they’d done. I had taken a few books and magazines I had worked on for show-and-tell purposes, and one student in particular was so interested that I ended up giving him one of my project books.
A lot has been said about woodworking and other trade skills disappearing because kids are more interested in computers and such. And while that may be true on some levels, it’s my experience that if introduced to woodworking early – fifth grade is perfect – they can become just as interested in woodworking as in high-tech pursuits.
If any better argument for keeping woodshop alive in schools exists, I don’t know what it is.