So, yesterday, I spent the day going around to my two son’s schools to talk about woodworking at the Great American Teach In. And, for the most part, I had a great time. Talking to seven classes and more than 300 kids about joinery was a blast.
For the most part.
There was this one student. After I had spent the better part of an hour explaining how joinery, glue, nails, screws and dovetails worked, she piped up and asked me, “Why do I need to learn this ‘stuff?'” Only, the word she used was a little stronger.
While this was obviously done for effect, it did leave me wondering what I was bringing to the kids.
I mean, most of them were never going to get involved in woodworking. The only contact that many of them would have with wood would probably be a few chairs, a table or some other pieces of furniture. What the hell was I trying to communicate?
I stammered. I struggled. Then, six hours later, it struck me like a bolt out of the blue.
What does a twelve year old kid know about life?
When I was twelve, my life revolved around the New York Giants, the books I had read and the TV show M*A*S*H*. I had a few close friends, didn’t particularly care for girls and had yet to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up. Maybe an astronaut. Maybe a race car driver. Maybe a cop.
Since that time, I have seen so much more. High School. College. Girlfriends. Trips to different cities. Building a resume. Reading books. Watching the Internet grow. Getting married. Playing golf for the first time. My children. And, discovering woodworking, a hobby that I enjoy tremendously.
When I was twelve, I’m sure I knew everything there was to know in the world. I had it all together. If, at that time, I was never exposed to new things, how poor the quality of my life would be. How narrow my focus.
She asked the question not because she was being sassy, but because she had yet to see the world beyond her small sphere of influence. My job yesterday wasn’t to get the kids jacked up about starting to woodwork on their own (although, I am sure that some will be for sure), but it was to show them something else worth seeing in life. To expand their perspectives.
Yeah, it was a challenging question. But, for sure, my job wasn’t to provide answers. Those will come for those kids later in life.