The Importance of Projects in the Education of Boys (1926)

1925: Paul V. Woolley. A Guide to The Study of Woodworking: A Handy Reference for Woodworkers, Teachers and Students of High Schools, Colleges and Industrial Schools.  Peoria, Illinois: Manual Arts Press, 1925.

Woolley's 1925 manual indexes the projects in twenty-two manuals, some published as early as 1907.

1926: Paul V. Woolley. A Guide to Woodworking Projects: A Companion Volume to A Guide to the Study of Woodworking. Peoria, Illinois: Manual Arts Press, 1926.

Head of the Department of Manual Arts, Filson High School, Muncie, Indiana.

A number of things may be observed in examining this Guide to Wood-working Projects:

About 1500 different projects listed. (The list of publishers who furnished complimentary copies of their books is given.) About 500 projects are found only in one book. Many projects classify themselves naturally into such groups as: Baskets, Benches, Bird Houses, etc. Over all, there are about seventy-two different kinds of tables, seventy-five kinds of boats, fifty-three kinds of chairs, thirty-five kinds of stands, twenty-five kinds of toy animals, nineteen kinds of guns and twelve kinds of puzzles.

As the standout in popularity, the taboret leads the list, with sixty-three references, while there are forty-eight foot stools and forty-eight wren houses referenced.

Woolly acknowledges his indebtedness to his many friends -- who have been of direct aid in this work's preparation -- but also for the assistance and cooperation of librarians, fellow teachers, and publishers, and to these men especially for their editorial work on the preliminary chapter, "The Importance of Projects".


    In presenting this book to the teachers of woodworking as a companion volume to A Guide to the Study of Woodworking, it seems fitting to consider, in the outset, an explanation of the apparent differences in policy regarding the references in these two books.

    In A Guide to the Study of Woodworking, it was the author's aim to make reference only to a few of the best books dealing with tools, processes, and materials. In the present work it seems best to list practically every American publi­cation now in print which deals wholly or in part with wood-working projects. After making an extended study of the woodworking books of this country it appears to the writer that considerations of tools, processes, and materials are rather standard throughout these publications. On the other hand, while there is some similarity in projects found in the various books, a large variety of distinctly original designs may be noted, even in books that might generally be considered en­tirely out of date. Too, there are many projects from Acrobats to Zither that are described in only one book, most of which have considerable merit as projects for school use.

    In A Guide to the Study of Woodworking many references were starred when considered to be especially valuable. This practice has seemed impractical in the present volume because of the large number of projects and because the educational value of many projects is dependent upon local conditions, student individuality, and other such factors, whereas the value of treatises of tool processes, tools, and materials is affected very little by such things as the geographical location of the reader.

    In considering the teacher's problems of instruction, we should note that modern education does not demand so much that we become mere store-houses of information, as it does that we learn how to locate information when wanted for a given situation. The author's purpose in this series of guides is to offer a systematic means of organizing information so that it can be found :quickly when wanted, and that pupils may be taught to search for knowledge in a systematic manner. The appreciation and judgment are also aided in having at one's finger tips the creations of those who are older in train­ing and experience—the books of the past centuries. The Guide is a new, but tested device which has as one of its purposes this feature of directing teachers and pupils to the accumulated knowledge and ideas of the past. It lists the woodworking projects found in the form of drawings and descriptive material in 20,000 pages of 118 books.

    This method of indexing the bulk of the world's knowledge on a given subject is an outgrowth of an attempt to reduce routine duties in the schoolroom so that more time might be left for actual instruction. The production of these guides is based on an experience of ten years of teaching shop and academic subjects, preceded by a number of years at the bench, a four-year college course in science, and a special course in engineering, as well as subsequent study in a state university, a state normal, and one university abroad.

    A few suggestions as to the use which can be made of this guide may be appropriate. For executives whose duty it is to work out courses of study and to prescribe certain limits as to the kind of projects, the breadth of contact found in the use of this guide will be a welcome time-saver. For those few teachers who are still required to follow prescribed formal courses, but who are allowed to introduce optional models, and for others who are free to make changes as they see fit, regard-less of the grades taught, this guide will be found convenient in suggesting models. The Guide helps to provide interesting supplementary problems for the fast worker who finishes his project before the rest have gotten well started. It also helps provide for the "repeater" who often has to repeat a grade, not because of poor shop work, but of poor academic work, by giving him a choice of a large list of projects. In other words, it makes easier the consideration of individual differ­ences. The busy teacher with from fifty to a hundred and fifty pupils demanding attention each day, finds it hard to treat the boy as an individual. The nearest approach to this individual instruction and guidance is to be attained when the teacher has every possible device which furthers quick disposi­tion of all questions and routine work of the shop satisfac­torily. Charles G. Wheeler, in his book, Woodworking' says : "The more he (the teacher) can be freed from routine duties the less likely he will be to go stale or become narrow; and the breadth and enthusiasm of the teacher react powerfully upon the pupils. . . ." For the student himself who thinks he has made about everything that he wants to make, this will suggest about 1400 other interesting projects. It will help the student in designing. As there are several good books treat­ing the processes of this art, and as this is a guide to projects already designed, the author will not attempt here a treatise on designing, except to suggest the place of this guide as an aid in the process. It seems reasonable that to design something new in any field of human endeavor, it is best to thoroughly investigate the fund of related knowledge already available. By gathering all the designs possible with the aid of this guide, analyzing and comparing them, selecting a good feature here, avoiding a poor one there, the student begins to learn to descriminate, to evaluate, and to create his own designs. Teachers will think of other uses of the Guide as they turn its pages.