Why Educate by Building Wooden Boats?
By Lance R. Lee

The arts and craftsmanship are of high cultural value for a single reason. They inspire. Such inspiration is not an accident; it is the result of yield of the spiritual qualities in the artist or craftsman. That spirit is comprised of the care, verve, and pride of achievement of the individual, qualities wrought by the art, the skill, the demands of materials and process. Art takes on an inspiring quality from the artist. Equally true is that individuals, artists, are imbued with such qualities, such spirit, by the practice of their art.

This vital, but elusive, fund – the human spirit – must be sustained. We may conquer need, discrimination, intolerance and even discomfort, but if we do all of this and ignore the human spirit, we will live in a superficial abundance which breeds discontent. Inspiring ourselves and our children must be one of the ends towards which we strive. Education must perform this service; let us shape our learning to the end required. Let us inspire the next generation through the practices of a demanding discipline which engages the head, hands, and the hearty.


photo courtesy of Apprenticeshop archives

Doing this will be nurturing the whole individual. We will be sustaining the care, pride, and spirit of a culture. We will be retaining an art otherwise all too likely to perish in our enthusiasm for attaining the shapes and forms of experience without the spirit and feeling of those shapes.

Let us go on building small wooden boats then, not for the objects and not for the process, but for the qualities to be nurtured in the practitioners of an art. To say that this is impractical, that it is too expensive or time consuming, is to respond to our wants and ignore our needs. It is to recognize the apparent rather than the real cost, which is to the human spirit and qualities. But this cost can be quantified now. The rise in crime, cost of crime prevention, courts and institutionalization, costs of poor mental health, drug abuse, alienation and school drop-out rates are each addressed through rising taxation. We must afford the next generation more than passive participation in order to overcome a disenchantment with the quality of life. We must immerse that generation in a process which sustains the spirit, involves the mind and exercises the hands.Small wooden boat building can afford us this process, this education, this inspiration, thus giving us deepened qualities of man and womanhood.

Lance Lee is the founder of the Apprenticeshop in Rockland, Maine


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