Student Knives Complete

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Randydb, Jun 16, 2020.

  1. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    Well, it's time for my yearly brag about my student knives and the school that I am principal of. Our school is a public school called the Maple Ridge Environmental School. Basically we do everything hands on, outside and in context every day. We meet in a number of different places through out our district and all of our learning is about the places we are in. Real life hands on learning every day. Things like Math, reading, writing, science etc comes out of what we are learning about. So if we are studying salmon and the river/watershed in the fall the kids are reading and writing about it, learning about the history of the fish and place, calculating the speed of the river, figuring out the average number of eggs in a salmon and dissecting salmon numerous times. It is rich, deep, engaging learning.
    So with our model kids use shovels, hammers, nets, saws and knives quite regularly. Many of my students carry pocket knives and if you ask for one about 30% of our students would be offering theirs to borrow. There is a protocol for a student to use their knife that has been developed over a lot of time and development of trust with the kids. They only use them with permission from a staff member and supervision. If they blow it, they won't be able to carry or use a knife for a long time. There is the odd child who has lost the privilege over time. But the vast majority have done it perfectly. We also have class sets of carving knives that we use with the children. In 9 years of using carving knives and children carrying/using pocket knives we have only had 2 children need a couple stitches each. Both times they got their finger with the carving knife because they had their finger too far around a smaller item they were carving.

    This year's knives are AEBL and were designed and ground by me. They were cut out and ht'd by JT Knives. It is a good way for me to continue to learn to grind better. The children found their wood for their knives in the bush in grade 6 and cut blocks that I sent to K&G to stabilize. All of these handles are the wood that the children found except one handle is Koa and that child traded me their block for it.
    The children put their handles on their knives, shaped and finished them with files and made their own sheaths. They are incredibly proud.

    Again, I want to say how thankful I am for everyone here on this forum that has helped me in my knife making learning journey. You haven't only blessed me, but you have also blessed a whole lot of children too.
    Kidsknives.jpg knivessheaths.jpg 2020knives.jpg
    Chalet, kmf600, Ken H> and 29 others like this.
  2. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I made a career switch in to teaching. That makes me appreciate this even more!
    Kids can do almost anything digital these days but wouldn't have a clue how to do something hands on like tying a knot.
    I think it is good that they get tought the digital stuff, but we shouldn't forget the basics.

    Keep up the good work!
  3. scott kozub

    scott kozub Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 1, 2018
    One of the best posts I've seen in a while. Great story.
  4. Branson1369


    Feb 17, 2019
    Great example of how we should teach!
    Ken H> and ten-six like this.
  5. ten-six


    Mar 11, 2017
    I've never been the person to say "Man, I wish I could go back to school" until now. Getting hands on and chasing ideas that interest them are some of the reasons we homeschooled our kids. This post really speaks to my soul, truly. Excellent work. Pass on passions. Teach what you love. Encourage children to experiment. That's where good ideas come from.
    Ken H>, Mr.Wizard and Branson1369 like this.
  6. marchone

    marchone Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 13, 2013
    Wonderful post. Great looking knife, too.
  7. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    Really great stuff.
  8. kdnolin

    kdnolin Basic Member Basic Member

    Jan 16, 2017
    Some really good looking knives there. I’d love to get my kids into a school like that, but nothing like that here. Great job by you and the kids.
  9. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    I interviewed some of our former students when they were in grade 12. Their complaint was that everything was "rote learning" in high school. Read or watch a video about something, answer some questions, write a test. They said it was difficult to remember what was on the test 2 weeks later. They said the thing about the learning in our school was that they still remembered it years later because they had lived the learning. One pointed out that we were using grade 11 trigonometry to calculate heights of trees when they were in grade 7 and he understood it because it was part of what they were doing.

    Students still use digital technology in our school, but it is a tool for figuring out our real life learning and sharing what we have learned. I would argue that we go way beyond the basics of memorizing things and into much richer, deeper understanding.

    You would be impressed our student's ability to problem solve and their resilience.
    Mr.Wizard, Wyo Coyote and Hengelo_77 like this.
  10. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    Randy - I have more technical degrees than I should admit to ... and have a doctorate from the #1 ranked chemical engineering department in the world, and have studied some of the most advanced math Methods out there (I literally read quantum mechanics and relativity for fun) -which is surprising, as I basically failed my way through grade school, definitely failed freshman algebra, and barely-barely passed the next several years of math. The point of that is that it was not until I started studying the real-life applications That all that “clicked” in a real way. So I see and believe from personal experience the advantage of your approach. You would be surprised at the number of engineers out there that just do not know how to approach a problem they are faced with, because they just studied the math, and never really understood the REASON for the math.

    you are doing these kids such an incredible service in taking the approach you are. My congratulations to you and your school. Sounds like, also, you find this approach rewarding - all the better for you!
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
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  11. Dominick Maone

    Dominick Maone

    Oct 14, 2018
    That is amazing. These kids will appreciate this experience for the rest of their lives. This is how every school should teach. It seems all schools care about is doing well on tests so they can get more money. Keep it up!!
  12. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    Love to see all those knives. They will cherish them and the knowledge they learned later in life!!

    I wanted to learn to make knoves from my Uncle (a Ca knife maker named Glen Hornby) but he passed away the year I graduated from high school.

    I would have loved to make a knife with him.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2020
  13. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    My son is 3rd year Math major with a 4.0 gpa. Wound up at university because he had a soccer scholarship. Basically hated high school and did enough to get by with reasonable grades. Then first year university he got a Calculus Prof who was relating what they were doing to practical applications that Liam related to because he loves the hands on part. He reads these out there Math things for fun too. He has a leg up on many of the other students because he has a practical level that he understands the concepts on as well as the theoretical.
    I think this is partly what our kids get here too. Deeper understanding of things. It was cool last fall when some of my grade 5s were looking through Salmon eyeball lenses and wondering why images were inverted and reversed. A week of theories, research and building different models and they completely understood a grade 11 physics concept and could explain it to you.
    Our kids are scared crapless when they go to high school because it is so different than here, but after a couple months they are fine and do well there too. They just are very disappointed and disenchanted by the dull delivery of rote assignments and testing.
  14. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    It is my belief (and experience) that the purpose of school is to teach you how to learn, not to just teach you stuff (there is far, far too much out there to learn in high school and again far too much to learn in college). By far, the people I saw do best in the long run would take what was taught in lecture, then go to other sources on the same subject and dig deeper on their own. Sounds like that is what you are really doing for your kids? Maybe it would help them be more comfortable if you told it to them that way (though maybe you already are???)
  15. M.McAlevy

    M.McAlevy KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 16, 2014
    Very cool. Thanks for sharing.
  16. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    nice !! great job all around.
  17. Wyo Coyote

    Wyo Coyote

    Nov 25, 2015
    The world at large could use a lot of this type of teaching and learning. Keep it up.
  18. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    I think understanding how to approach learning is massive. That drive to learn more, approach other sources and dig deep is so key. Most of you have learned to make knives without taking a formal course. You've done a combination of research (reading, listening to others, asking questions, reading forums) and practical hands on activities that have allowed you to arrive where you are as makers. You built on previous knowledge and took it deeper.
    One of our major focuses is teaching the children how to approach learning. Understanding themselves, ways to approach new problems, and how to develop understanding. Having topics that are interesting and engaging make the learning and follow through easier too. We spent a month studying maggots growing in salmon one warm fall, and another month studying mushroom when it was rainy. The learning that happens when we spend two months at the BMX bike park is pretty cool too. There is a ton of physics, math, statistics, rates ratios and graphing to be done there. Pretty motivating to have professional racers work with the kids and share about the focus and commitment it takes to compete at an elite level.

    We do a lot of things to help transition like having former students in to share their experience, visits to the high school, examples of "high school styled work" etc. But when your entire experience of school has not been "conventional" it is scary at first. Almost all of them do very well and get over their worry by the end of the first term.

    I just know I wake up every morning and am excited to go to work and I have a blast every day at this.
    Ken H> likes this.
  19. TheEdge01


    Apr 3, 2015
    Nice all around job!!! I bet those kids are some happy campers.
  20. Rykjeklut

    Rykjeklut Gold Member Gold Member Basic Member

    May 23, 2018
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