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Did you hear that sound coming from our second Makerspace classroom? It was probably one of the power saws or planers that Mr. Carmine D’Agosto and several SJHS students have been using to build the drafting tables for our new Fundamentals of Engineering course! Mr. D’Agosto was a cabinet maker for thirty years before coming to SJHS as a math teacher in 2006. He is excited to share some of his passion for his craft with students here. Working with wood, and learning to use hand and power tools, is a process that requires focus, care and attention, qualities that are sure to contribute positively to all his students’ future endeavors. But that’s not all; in Shop Class as Soulcraft, a book dear to the heart of Mr. D’Agosto, the philosopher and motorcycle mechanic Matthew Crawford explains how activities like carpentry, which engage our cognitive faculties through the action of our bodies, spur our experiential knowledge and understanding of the natural world:

“Skilled manual labor entails a systematic encounter with the material world, precisely the kind of encounter that gives rise to natural science. From its earliest practice, craft knowledge has entailed knowledge of the “ways” of one’s materials — that is, knowledge of their nature, acquired through disciplined perception…Through pragmatic engagement, the carpenter learns the different species of wood, their fitness for such needs as load bearing and water holding, their dimensional stability with changes in the weather, and their varying resistance to rot and insects. The carpenter also gains a knowledge of universals, such as the right angle, the plumb, and the level, which are indispensable for sound construction.”

– Matthew Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work

While many students sign up for wood shop activities like this one simply out of a desire to have fun and learn something new, Mr. D’Agosto already sees how the skills they are learning translate into a much deeper and more intuitive understanding of scientific and mathematical concepts.

Here is a gallery of photos from the shop! Click each photo to view the full image: