Technical dexterity.

The artisan as a teacher of Stijd.

But the truth here, as in so many other cases, lies between the two extremes. It is as hurtful to under-estimate technical skill as it is to over-estimate it. Therefore, let no teacher imagine that he can successfully undertake instruction in slojd with slight and superficial knowledge on the purely technical side. It will soon and surely be made clear to him that this is not the case. If he has not himself the necessary technical dexterity for his purpose, it will be difficult, indeed almost impossible, for him to make clear to his pupils how they are to handle their tools and execute the work prescribed. Neither will he be able in an efficient way to supervise their work and criticise the quality of what they produce. The feeling of self-mastery which is so essential for the teacher when he stands face to face with his pupils, forsakes him, and the educative results which he intends to attain by means of slojd are diminished in proportion. It is most important that this should be laid down once for all, because some teachers possibly imagine that the technical skill necessary for teaching may be obtained by attending one or two slojd courses. This is by no means the case, and the organisers of such slojd courses are the first to understand and to insist upon the fact, that they can only aim at laying a foundation on which students may afterwards build by means of independent work. Just as little as one can learn to play on any instrument by merely taking lessons for a given time from a music teacher, can skill in the management of tools be acquired and maintained without continuous and earnest practice. The teacher who feels real interest in slojd must therefore, on his own account, endeavour to improve in respect of technical skill, and this will prove a two-fold gain3 because the bodily exercise affords a healthy change from the mental work with which the time of the teacher is chiefly filled.

Underestimation of the importance of technical dexterity.

To summarise what has been said in the foregoing: the teacher of educational slojd must above all things have the habit of mind which is indispensable for the right performance of the teacher's work; his personality must be such as renders him fit to be a teacher ; he must know the objects of educational slojd and the means by which they are to be attained; and finally, he ought to have sufficient dexterity to handle the tools and to execute accurately the work which is incidental to the course of instruction. These are the demands made on him; may he strive to meet them.

The special kind of Slojd recommended.

Various materials, e.g., wax, clay, paper, pasteboard, wood, metal, etc, may be used in educational slojd. Wood, however, is for several reasons the most suitable material; hence wood-slojd has been the most popular of all, both in schools and for private instruction. As the name implies, wood-slojd means "slojding" in wood. This, again, includes several different kinds of work. Amongst these, however, it is the so-called slojd-carpentry which best fulfils the conditions required when instruction in slojd is given with educational ends in view. It is adapted to the mental and physical powers of children. By enabling them to make a number of generally useful articles, it awakens and sustains genuine interest. It encourages order and accuracy, and it is compatible with cleanliness and tidiness. Further, it cultivates the sense of form more completely than instruction in drawing does, and, like gymnastics and free play, it has a good influence upon the health of the body, and consequently upon that of the mind. Additional advantages are, that it is excellently adapted for methodical arrangement, comprising as it does a great number of exercises of varying degrees of difficulty, some of which are very easy; and that it gives a considerable degree of general dexterity by means of the many different tools and manual operations which it introduces.

Slojd carpentry

We must not confound slojd-carpentry with the work done by the carpenter, properly so-called. This is the more necessary because great confusion of ideas prevails on the subject; not least, remarkably enough, amongst those who are interested in slojd, or give instruction in it.

Difference between slojd-carpentry and ordinary carpentry.

It must be borne in mind that although slojd-carpentry and ordinary carpentry have something in common, inasmuch as the same raw material (wood) is employed, and to some extent the same or similar tools are used, yet they differ one from the other in several very important respects. For example, the articles made in slojd-carpentry are in many cases quite different from those which fall within the province of the carpenter. The articles made in slojd-carpentry are differentiated partly by their smaller size, for the articles made in workshops are generally much larger; partly by their form, for they are often bounded by variously curved outlines, whilst articles made by the carpenter are generally rectangular or cylindrical. This is especially shown in the case of the many different kinds of spoons, ladles, scoops, handles, etc, etc, which form such an important element in slojd -carpentry.

Further, though many tools are common to both kinds of work, there are also considerable differences in this respect. Several tools which are seldom or never used in the carpenter's workshop, e.g., the axe, the draw-knife, and the spoon-iron, occupy an important place in slojd-carpentry.

The most characteristic tool in slojd-carpentry is, however, the knife, and by the use of this, his chief instrument, the slbjder may always be distinguished from the carpenter, whose favourite tool is the chisel, and who, as seldom as possible, and never willingly, takes the knife in his hand. In carpentry, on the other hand, use is made of a number of tools more or less necessary, which are quite unknown to the slojder, who works for the most part under more primitive conditions. Distinct differences can also be pointed out in the manner of executing the work (for while division of labour is practised in carpentry, it is not permitted in slojd) and in the manner of using the tools. It will be seen from the foregoing that much may pass under the name of instruction in slojd which, properly speaking, ought simply to be called instruction in carpentry. It is most important that this distinction should be maintained, because otherwise educational slojd will by degrees be lost in instruction in carpentry as a trade.