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Elliot's Blog (September 27, 2019)

Are you with me now? - AJ Ryder


For my Sunday reading pleasure, Frank Wilson sent along an article in the NY Times about the 737 crashes - article was a pretty thorough reporting of so many of the problems with the airline industry from the training of pilots, to the maintenance of planes and finally, the regulations round flying. One of the people on the email who responded was Ed Tenner. I know Ed from a book he wrote years ago called, Why Things Break: Understanding the World By the Way it Comes Apart? His response was something to note for all of us around the kind of organization we want to be. In Ed’s opinion Boeing’s switch from a Deep organization to a Flexible one had lots to do with it.


When Doug Stowe, who was also on the email, read Tenner’s response. He chimed in: 

“A friend of mine noted that he considered me parsimonious, which he insisted was not an insult. He meant that in box making, I had eliminated all the unnecessary steps, and had thereby reduced error. I think that’s true for a lot of us older folks. Young whippersnappers give an impression of efficiency because they run around so much and so fast. That’s what a graphic designer would call “motion blur.” In the meantime, some of us actually work smarter, even allowing time for naps. A good friend who passed away recently would suggest to beginning woodworkers, “hurry up so you'll have more time to fix your mistakes.”

Doug is a woodworker, teacher and one of the founders of Eureka Springs School for the Arts. His blog Wisdom of The Hands - is great. In the past, he has attended quite a few of our symposia on The Hand, CTE and Out of School Youth.


Just one more quick note –

One of the other problems pointed out by this article was the over reliance of training pilots on simulators. It appears that the pilots who had more training by actually flying planes were better able to respond to challenges in the air. The pilots trained on simulators go to a checklist where the pilots who know how to fly have a feel for what to do. Most schools gladly put students through all sorts simulations and call it work-based learning. To our credit at Harbor Freight Fellows, we also put students out in the world with mentors where they learn to have a feel for what to do so, they can make decisions that matter. 


Welding Won’t Make You Rich - Is a lucrative college-free job too good to be true? Paul Tough

A week ago, Paul Tough wrote an article in The Atlantic - Welding Won’t Make You Rich - Is a lucrative college-free job too good to be true? -


Here’s my response

The skilled trades can be a rewarding career choice; as good as any, and as intellectually rigorous as any. Tough’s article points out that the trades are both demeaned and glorified by many to prove their viewpoints on the state of education in America. But, it is the people who are skilled, fulfilled and making a living that our national narrative must capture. 

Schools must assess all students in the many ways they are smart. Presently, schools don’t credit, count or measure these smarts. We must develop a system that connects students through their interests, to people who know they have the skills and commitment to do their chosen work. We need a system that supports all students in all schools and not just the few schools that serve the few.


All the best,



Elliot Washor,Ed.D.
Co-founder Big Picture Learning