This year marks the 40th anniversary of Kids’ Carpentry, a woodworking program founded by Michael Glass in the San Francisco Bay area in 1982. The program has expanded to other parts of the country, drawing approximately 2,000 K-6th students per year.
“There’s a high rate of return for the kids. I would say about 60 to 65 percent of kids return to the next class and take our classes over and over,” says Glass.
Students design and build projects appropriate for their skill level, from birdfeeders to boats, and are encouraged to do more complicated projects as they progress. Glass enjoys challenging his pupils and helping them gain confidence.
“One of the things that’s a key component in our teaching is the Socratic style of teaching. What that means to us is if some child is asking a question about what to do, say if they’re building a paddle boat, they cut the boat to the right length, they cut the bow and turn to me, and say, ‘what I do next?’ Rather than give the answer, I try to pose more questions so that they can problem solve. And I’ve found that to be a fun and empowering way of teaching.”
Glass credits his mentor, Al Mayberry, for starting Carpentry for Kids. Mayberry ran a youth carpentry program in the Berkeley, Calif. public school system. “I got hooked up with him and studied under him for a few months, and then I went off on my own and started setting up multiple programs around the Bay area. I basically took his curriculum and embellished it,” says Glass.
Glass offers licensing opportunities to use the Kids’ Carpentry curriculum. There are programs in Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle.
For more, visit kidscarpentry.com.
This article was originally published in the June 2022 issue.