The shop monkey goes to school

Every year, the local school board hosts the Great American Teach In.  This program is similar to the good old career days, when people would come to school to talk about what they do and tell the kids how they got the positions they did.

The event is open to people who want to talk about their vocations and avocations as well. So, you will see people talking about all kinds of things – firefighters, police officers, chefs and medical professionals were joined by volunteers with animal rescue organizations, glass blowers and part time musicians.  Heck, reporters from the local news stations come out in droves to get in on the act to tell the kids about careers as a journalist.

For the past six years, I have gone to the schools to talk with kids about hurricane preparedness. It’s always been a fun way to spend a day, and the kids have seemed to appreciate the information.

This year, though, I took a day off from work and went to the schools to talk about my favorite hobby, woodworking. I woke up early this past Thursday to pack the tools into the car and got dressed in one of the Show Me the Monkey t-shirts, and remembered to bring my little video camera.

I went to my youngest son’s school first, and was greeted with breakfast, lots of coffee, bottled water and a cake decorated for the occasion. I spent the first hours of the morning talking to groups of fourth and fifth graders, who asked a whole bunch of strange questions. “If you threw your saw at someone and it hit them in the neck, would it cut their head off?”  Yikes.  Fortunately, I was able to keep the content more in line with woodworking, and the kids seemed to enjoy it. My youngest son’s teacher even said the kids enjoyed my talk more than that given by the lady from the ASPCA… and I never do better than the people with animals!

After a delicious lunch at the first school, I went over to my oldest son’s school, where I spoke to sixth, seventh and eighth graders. That’s when I had an opportunity to set up my video camera and capture my talk to bring to you. Now, this isn’t the greatest video quality… I had to set the tripod so I could get myself, so the focus is a little wide.  And, at the end, the top of my head disappeared. But, I hope you get an idea of what I spoke about.

At the end of the day, I was bushed. My oldest son and I loaded the car and made the drive home.  I was hoarse, but I couldn’t stop smiling. That is the way to spend a day… talking to a new generation of kids who just might one day want to take up the craft and build something impressive.

I hope you enjoy my first attempt at doing a video with my blog…  I have a feeling that I might try it again in the future.

11 thoughts on “The shop monkey goes to school”

  1. Mental note: remember to keep son away from kid who wants to throw saws at people.

    Come on Tom, you gotta tells us how you danced around that question…

  2. OK, Dan, here’s how I answered…

    “Well, that’s an interesting question. Not sure what would happen, but I like my tools, and the people who come to my shop – too much to throw saws at them! 🙂

  3. That was great….my daughter’s school is always asking people to come in and do career chats with kids to tell them about your day job. My day is really not that interesting…but woodworking..that’s a different story. Next time their looking I might go in and talk about woodworking.

  4. Ian – I’ve found that the only requirements to do well in a setting like that are enthusiasm for what you do and an ability to deal with some disruptions from fidgity kids. It was tougher at the start of the talks, but by the end, they were all paying attention. Go for it!

  5. Tom
    Suggested answer to the sawchucker. “No-one who has a good saw would want to find out – because if it does, there would be blood all over the blade, which would rust it and make it no good for further use on wood!” (Courtesy of my First form woodwork teacher Bill Marjoram – if your teacher was a survivor of the summer of ’68, mine was a survivor of Changi PoW camp in WWII – ther was nothing that any boy could do to upset that man, he’d seen too much horrible already!


  6. You have a lot of patience brother.
    Your public speaking training undoubtedly helped out.
    I bet the kids who take an interest in woodworking will remember Mr Iovino’s visit.
    Thanks Tom.

  7. Thank you again, for coming and helping the kids. They are so excited about doing the scroll saw projects already and now after your visit, They were just busting to get in the shop on Friday. it is too bad there are few middle school left to allow these kid the opportunity to accomplish this task awesome article thanks again. We need more people to show that it is truly a wonderful useful tool for understanding and applying science and math concepts.

  8. Hey, everyone, this is Mr. Dority.. I was in his class while doing the video.

    Thank you for the opportunity to talk with your students… that was one of the best days of woodworking I have ever spent! I’m looking forward to coming back next year…

  9. Excellant video, excellant job! Teaching the young about the hobby is always fulfililing. A few weeks ago my sone wanted to make his girlfriend a bookstand. I helped him get started and we had a ball working on it. He is thinking of other things to make now. You can see the video I made of him from my lumberjocks site. Keep up the good work.

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