Do you consider art narration or nature journaling to be a craft? Whatever we call them, or however we categorize them, we can see how these two dovetail with handicrafts when we consider the formation of a whole person, a free person. Today’s children have many leisure hours, and statistics tell us that many of those leisure hours are spent consuming movies, television, music, video games, text messages, and so on. They are producing very little, if anything at all.
My guess is that many of these children don’t even really know how, or don’t have the materials available to even use for making an attempt at producing something beautiful.
One of the characteristics of a free man is that he does not need others to provide for him, including entertainment for him. In fact, he is able to produce something that gives joy to others. Reminds me of a verse:
He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)
Now, obviously this verse is talking about a man taking a job and sharing the proceeds. However, we still know that the Christian life is a life which overflows. Habits of production (I hate using that word; I do not mean factories) have the potential to overflow, while habits of consumption of electronic media and entertainment-based toys do not. It is impossible to overflow that which we are consuming ourselves, which comes from outside of ourselves. Mountain springs overflow from within; waters pouring down a bottomless drain are wasted, even to the drain.
I think of art narration and nature journaling, along with musical training and handicrafts as a four-pronged strategy for growing the soul up into an adulthood that has the potential to overflow, to give generously, and to need little. Riches do not necessarily result in generosity, but rich lives do. This is part of what it means to live a rich life: to be able to see beauty and imitate it, record it, produce more of it, and share it, blessing others with it.
Many of us cringe when we think of all of the factories our lives depend upon. Raising a different type of children will produce a different type of culture, for their very lives will demand it. What need of mass-produced plastic Target Christmas ornaments has a skilled craftsman? What need of a Chinese sweatshop has a skilled tailor or embroiderer? We require these things because we cannot (or will not) create them ourselves.
I, for one, mostly cannot.
But that will change.
There are a number of things that keep me from handicrafts. I could blame the budget, but when I get to the core of it, my biggest hesitation is due to my own ignorance. Once I realized that, I felt challenged to discard my fears and insecurities and join the adventure with my children.
This is what I meant when I wrote that a huge benefit of homeschooling is its ability to produce an educated populace because it stretches and grows the older generations along with the younger. If we rise to the challenge — and it is a huge challenge to attempt to educate a child into a full life — we are changed.
This means that some of us will really grasp math for the first time. Some of us will read books no one introduced us to when we were children.
Me? Well, it looks like I’ll be learning to work with my hands a bit, to make something beautiful.
What about you?
Crafts in the Life of the Child Series Index:
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part I)
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part II)
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part III)
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part IV)
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part V) ← you are here
- Crafts in the Life of the Child (Part VI)
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