Utilizing the craft of woodworking to nurture the overall well-being of a child
What is Sløjd?
"What, then, is the aim of educational slöjd? To utilize, as is suggested above, the educative force which lies in rightly directed bodily labour, as a means of developing in the pupil's physical and mental powers which will be a sure and evident gain to them for life." -- Otto Salomon
Sløjd - Danish (Swedish Slöjd or UK/America Sloyd) is a Scandinavian educational program that was started in Finland by Uno Cygnaeus in 1865. Soon after it gained more traction in Sweden by Otto Salomon, later came to the United States, but was short-lived. Sløjd is still practiced in much of Scandinavia to this day.
The aim of Sløjd is to utilize the craft of woodworking as a means of fostering the overall well-being and development of a child. The program enables the child to take charge of their own learning. It instills a love of work while also developing independence and perseverance, all while learning a beautiful age-old craft.
See it in Action
"Put a young man in a woodshop, his hands work to the advantage of his brain and he becomes a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman." —Jean Jacques Rousseau
It is about the child
Sløjd is not about creating craftsmen, it is about nurturing qualities in a child that will serve them well in all of life. The original aim of Sløjd was:
To instill a taste for, and a love of labor
To inspire respect for rough, honest, bodily labor
To develop independence and self-reliance
To train in habits of order, exactness, cleanliness, and neatness
To train the eye and sense of form,
To give a general dexterity of hand, and to develop touch.
To accustom to attention, industry, perseverance, and patience
Modernly, we see by practicing this manual skill the child grows in self-agency by experiencing the tangible cause and effect of their actions. Overall it cultivates important qualities such as self-actualization, perseverance, independence, and curiosity. These attributes contribute to a child’s intellectual, physical, emotional, and social development.
The ability to create or make is an incredible gift. The feeling of pride that a child experiences upon completing a model, or using something they have made, or even just creating a small wooden curl or shaving... all of this reinforces Maslow's highest hierarchy of needs, self-actualization, which is the realization or fulfillment of one's talents and potential, driven by an internal motivation.
It is no secret that good things take time, and working with hand tools to create useful objects is no different. A child experiences everything it takes to persevere and accomplish the end goal - self-discipline, self-control, self-motivation and self-accountability. This ultimately brings about a love of work.
“Self-reliance and generosity should be fostered, and it must be remembered that the finished product should represent the child’s own effort..." Gustaf Larsson - Elementary Sloyd and Whittling
Each model is something that can be used as Otto Salomon said in The Teacher’s Hand-book of Slöjd, “By enabling them to make a number of generally useful articles, it awakens and sustains genuine interest...”
"In order to develop his mind a child must have objects in his environment which he can hear and see. Since he must develop himself through his movements, through the work of his hands, he has need of objects with which he can work the provide motivation for his activity" — Dr. Maria Montessori
Sløjd in Schools
In the program, the child is guided through a series of thoughtfully selected wooden build models and receives training on the proper use of real hand tools like hand planes, spokeshaves, and chisels.
Educational Sløjd is designed to be implemented as a class or elective within school day hours or aftercare programs, or even a summer program.
The program has a potential student capacity ranging from 1 to 20 for a single teacher, with an ideal class size of 6 to 10.
The program is primarily targeted towards children aged 9 to 12, but children as young as 6 can participate.
It is beneficial to have the student participate in the class three times a week, with each session lasting 1.5 hours. This regular engagement allows for continuous learning and skill development. Overall this is flexible and can be customized per school.
In Sløjd we normalize failure as part of the learning path. It is not shameful but celebrated that you took risks and tried something. It is retrospective; we look back and see what we learned from the experience.
Students pace themselves through each module, taking on the complete role of initiator and actor. By being in control the child experiences the tangible cause and effect of their actions and develops a sense of self-agency. This allows them to see that they are the writer of their story.
"Instruction shall proceed gradually, from the more easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex, and from the known to the unknown, it being always understood that the starting point is sufficiently easy, simple, and well-known." Otto Salomon - The Teacher’s Hand-book of Slojd
"Sloyd (Sløjd) is a means by which the pupil derives great advantage from the constant use of his faculties of observation and perception, through both sight and touch. This he cannot do so well when he sits as a passive and patient listener to the dogmatic instruction of the teacher." —Otto Salomon - The Theory of Educational Sloyd
Are you a School, Teacher, or Parent interested in the program?
...Reach out, and be put on a list for future updates or for me to reach out to you
**Your information will not be sold or used outside of Woolly Furniture
Donation proceeds go towards building kids workbenches, purchasing tools, and the overall growth of the program.
** Educational Sløjd is part of Woolly Furniture LLC and is not a 501(c)(3), I am just a man on a mission to improve lives through this beautiful craft. :)