The art of carpentry and the benefit of students

Text and photos by Verónica Meza, Alianza News

    The first artisans of the carpentry trade were the inventors and users of tools that worked with wood. And through the need to build wooden structures for homes, the trade of carpentry originated.

    In the educational sector, carpentry workshops are taught exclusively in some schools because it helps students develop their imagination, observation, creativity, and problem-solving more practically.

    The Girls’ Middle School, GMS, a middle school in Palo Alto, California, has a progressive education modality and offers students a carpentry workshop that breaks all social stereotypes. Socially, men are thought to be the only ones skilled in handling tools and working with wood effectively. In these carpentry workshops at GMS, the students receive training in handling tools and machinery. They are also guided in the creation and transformation, with their hands, to use pieces of wood effectivel.

In these carpentry workshops at GMS, the students receive training in handling tools and machinery and are guided in the creation and transformation, with their hands, of a piece of wood.

Frances Kao, the teacher of the woodworking art and physical education classes at The Girls’ Middle School, mentions, «Students should be exposed to art classes because it provides a space for expression, self-awareness, and a creative form of communication. In carpentry classes, students understand how things are made, and they sharpen their observations. Much of the three-dimensional work that is produced requires reasoning. This refers to the shape of the object and its transformation. When exposed to art classes, students can connect what they learn in physics, math, or language to a type of art. Students who don’t like math can find fruitful connections if they can relate it to something they build in the carpentry shop.»

    Ryan Hoagland, a parent volunteer in the GMS carpentry shop, states, «In this class, the students are curious about learning carpentry, and they take pride in building something. That gives them empowerment that helps them carry out any other activity. If they can shape wood in this class, they can learn any subject they set their minds to.»

     Likewise, Jackie Braylovshiy, a 6th-grade student in the carpentry class, commented, «In this class, I have learned different types of wood cutting, applying exact measurements, and using machinery safely. I feel happy when I see what I have built. Working with wood is relaxing.»

     At the same time, student Fox Cox replied, «It’s exciting to put the pieces of wood together and create something.» Also, student Emma Frank said she was happy to build a kitchen board with her hands to cut vegetables and celebrate Hanukkah.

Frances Kao, teacher of carpentry with their students. In the GMS carpentry shops, students practice how to handle machinery and tools.

Undoubtedly, The Girls’ Middle School breaks the social stereotypes of teaching carpentry to girls and the diversity of students’ genders. According to Frances Kao, girls or women are generally not socially seen as capable of using tools or machinery properly. It is not traditional to teach a student to build something by hand. But in this school, the carpentry class is obligatory. The more practice a student has, the easier it will be to create and build with their hands.

    Visiting the carpentry classes at GMS and observing 6th-grade students building their kitchen cutting boards with rounded edges is impressive. And 7th-grade students built a wooden box with lids that move. Also, seeing 8th-grade students creating a pen, tool holders, cups, or deep plates creatively made of wood.

    Art, in all its manifestations, such as theater, dance, painting, and sculpture, including carpentry, stimulates a child’s creative, emotional, and intellectual level. And perhaps the answer to what to do to educate more empathetic students with stronger emotional ties is not locked up in an algorithm or quantum physics; but fundamentally in the art that it can stimulate the balanced growth of a student. For this reason, it is vital to involve students, at a very early age, in artistic manifestations that promote creativity and not a sedentary life in front of a computer. This society requires people to communicate clearly, empathize and understand their family, school, and social environment.

The Girls’ Middle School, GMS, a middle school located in Palo Alto, California, that has an advanced education modality offers its students a carpentry workshop that breaks all social stereotypes.

    In conclusion, according to Frances Kao, master’s carpenter, and artist, «Computers are too fast. With carpentry, we teach patience by slowing down. If students take the time to finish a detailed piece of wood, they can take pride and build on their self-esteem by completing a project. Students often don’t think they can learn math, but art shows us an excellent way to modify activities where math is implicated.

    We applaud the work of Frances Kao and teacher Eva Waterman for leading the carpentry workshop and transmitting to their students the love of art and the joy of working creatively with wood. We invite you to consider starting your children or students in carpentry classes. The benefits are more than proven. Art heals!

The Girls’ Middle School educates girls at a crucial time in life. We create an inclusive environment where academic growth is nurtured. A GMS girl discovers her strengths and expresses her voice by respecting the contributions of others.