Carving Lessons: Not Such an Awesome Idea

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011 | The Thing About School

Wyatt and Rory brought these home from school earlier this week.

Rory's work.

Wyatt's work.

They were part of a much-heralded art project that is truly Montessori in theme: using clay, wax and soft wood, they were exploring different carving mediums! That seemed fine to me, if a little high-falutin’; I don’t tend to question what they do on Montessori time. They go, they come back, they seem happy, I detect learning—this is all I ask. I displayed their art on the kitchen counter for the time being. Which really means I stood it up and forgot to do anything else with it.

But this morning, when I pulled the pillow off of my head, I heard Rob (always on breakfast duty due to my general morning unpleasantness) shout “What are you doing?” Then some incoherent commentary in high-pitched voices until Rory came in loud and clear: “That hurt me! I can’t do it and it hurt me!”

Turns out they’d decided on doing some more exploring of carvable mediums before breakfast, and had fished out a couple of knives (just table knives) from the drawer and begun digging away. Wyatt left shavings all over the counter and floor—thus Rob’s shout—and Rory apparently couldn’t make any headway, so he’d walked in on her holding the wood block in one hand and stabbing at it wildly with a knife with the other. That didn’t end well. Carving would appear to be one of those activities that is best done with supervision. I think those things should have come home with a warning tag. But who am I kidding. Knives? Clay? I should have known.

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1 Comment to Carving Lessons: Not Such an Awesome Idea

Cheryl
Thursday, May 19, 2011

I’m a professional woodcarver, and co-taught classes for more than 15 years. Virtually our only rule for signing up for classes was that you had to be at least 13 years of age, and if you were young, you weren’t allowed to purhase tools from us or practice at home without your parents being involved.

I’m glad to hear there are schools out there including this art form in their curriulum, but even using soap and plastic tools, the chance of injury can be huge. I once saw a co-worker drive a woodcarving knife 2 inches into her thigh. (The difference between her and your kids being that her knife was VERY sharp.)

I am definitely on your team when it comes to the warning tag…especially with young children. If applied with enough force, even a plastic tool can cause a puncture wound! Perhaps they should wait until the kids are older and have better muscle control.

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