Patience. At times I seem to have very little of it, but when necessary, it manages to accompany me. Woodworking and woodworkers require it, so could patience be a factor as to why not as many of today’s children, teens, and young adults are into woodworking?
Face it, most kids today have a very short attention span. They are constantly bombarded with sound bites and videos while they are plugged into their iPods and video games. How can you expect someone to learn patience in this kind of environment?
Now let’s take this one step further, how are we supposed to get our kids to enjoy woodworking when they constantly expect change and instant results? From time to time I see DIY shows, and most of them are the epitome of short attention span theater. The camera is constantly moving and changing scenes. This is just the opposite of what a handyman or craftsman should be! I’d hate to see what comes out of the shop of “The Impatient Woodworker.”
Woodworking is not what you would call an “exciting pastime,” and quite frankly, I don’t want anything exciting to happen in my shop. Now having David Marks or Norm Abrams walk through the door of my shop would be the kind of exciting event I’d like. But flying boards and bowls? Not for me thank you. In woodworking, there’s no score, there’s no guns, no scantely clad women, or violence, so how can woodworking compete with that? I will admit there is occasional cursing in my shop, and a happy dance from time to time, but nothing a modern American kid would call exciting.
To me, woodworking is an escape. It’s just me and the wood, the sound of my tools, occasional mutterings, and perhaps a little song. When I am in the shop alone, time moves at the different pace, and the rest of the world and my problems seem to go away. In a way, I kind of envy the craftsmen of long ago. They did not have the lure of TV. They did not have a stack of magazines beckoning them at the end of the day. I have to wonder, if on a whole, they had better powers of concentration and longer attention spans.
So what can we do about this lack of attention problem? For my family, we might have a bit of an edge. We live in a community were a large number of families don’t even own a TV. We have one, but TV watching for the kids is a rare treat. I am sure after a certain grade level in school, the arts will disappear from our children’s curriculum, but I want to make sure my kids keep crafting, or find some hobby that will occupy their minds and hands. And of course, I hope that at least one of them will want to be a woodworker.