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Elliot's Blog 4/10/2018

From El – “Are you with me now?" AJ Ryder

What can master carpentry teach Deeper Learning (DL)? A great deal even though carpentry and other skilled trades have not had a place in Deeper Learning. Where are all the students doing skilled trades at Deeper Learning Conferences? We see loads of students in the performing arts. We see loads of students with 3-printers. But, when it comes to the DL workshops and Deep Dives look at the names of them and you will find only academics are considered as deep. Do most participants at the conference consider these skills less rigorous? Is there some sort of bias? Just ask them or better yet, look at what they are doing.

Here’s a quote from Steve Jobs, the college dropout who most in the DL world would revere around his incredible life’s work in design.

When you're a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you're not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You'll know it's there, so you're going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality has to be carried all the way through."

That’s high quality - HQ. Is building like this a project or is it more? Now tell me how many times does a carpentry student present at a Deeper Learning session? They did at our Harbor Freight Fellows Deep Dive but we are a long way from inclusion here, and it is time people looked in the many mirrors, shades and crannies of how our system creates inequities by what is viewed as smart and not smart.

In the Craftsmanship Initiative, there was an article about the side-hustle. For some of us there’s nothing new here. Kind of old wine in new bottles but side-hustles are definitely something to think about not only, in terms of the future work but also, the future of school and where side-hustles fit. How off to the side will the side-hustle be in the future? When do you shift gears from one type of work you like to another? This is why we ask about many interests. How long does it take to get really good at something? How much time can school devote to students getting good at more than one thing and count it when, most students get all the same courses and where only a few get any kind of hustle out of school?


“Do the hustle” -

When informal learning meets the formal learning i.e. when out of school meets inside of school, we get engaged learning. We are looking ahead and hustling sideways. In the interview with Adam Christgau, a professional drummer, he talks about his side-hustle of carpentry. In the interview, I notice how he built connections to drumming his main work and carpentry. Adam could feel the flaws in his wooden drumsticks. He could feel when they were warping and when they were about to break and crack. Does he bring this knowledge to carpentry from music? Of course. Making connections is very common with side-hustles. Also, I noticed how Adam went back in his wayback machine to his childhood where he was building with Legos and also remembering his grandfather’s wood planes which he now desperately wants to get his hands on. These inclinations of who we are appear early on in our lives. They are buffeted by serious relationships and hours of practice aka informal learning, not just around soft skills but around work that is very playful, practical and theoretical.  Carl Sandburg stated: Let the gentle bush dig its root deep and spread upward to split the boulder.” Now, that’s deep!

I hadn’t seen Loren’s father, Steve in years. At that time, Steve among other things was the head of the Puget Sound pilots’ union This time Steve was the vide-president of Crowley Industries, a two-billion dollar privately held company. They have fleets of boats ranging from cargo ships to tugs to tankers. Steve took the job because of a trusting relationship he had with the number-two man at Crowley. Years ago, they were on opposite sides of the negotiating table. They both had above all else two characteristics they identified and these were integrity and trust. This was how things were negotiated and resolved and how they built a long-term friendship. Sunny, Loren and I were at Crowley to develop a relationship with them around the work at New Harmony for a craft and also see how we could get our students access to the maritime trades. We had a great meeting and Crowley is now helping us in our New Harmony work. Also, it turns out that I learned there is quite a demand for many maritime jobs i.e. deckeneers that pay between $180,000 and $360,000 a year with just a high school education. The question is where does a student who want to do this work get access to learn these skills? Some of them get taught in school but according to Steve know you also have to know someone to teach you and get the work. That’s where we come in. This bears out in data that Andrew and David shared with me: “Seventy percent of all employment opportunities in the USA are never publicly posted.” Who you know and what you know go together.

Enjoy the weekend