From around three years old my boys were in the woodshop every day with me for while. They indeed cut their teeth on Stanley spokeshaves and sharpened their skills by honing chisels and planes as I watched them. By the time they were all sixteen they were highly competent and the skills they learned are with them for a lifetime. They never question whether tools work or don’t and if a tool doesn’t exist they make it. They also learned other craft skills but woodworking was obvious because they liked being with me and they liked being in the workshop.
I am careful to say that not having woodworking in schools is wrong because generally speaking it’s actually a good thing for the main part. The last thing you want is someone who knows little about woodworking teaching it and that is how it has ended up. The worst thing will be a university graduate with a teacher’s degree for general subjects being told they need to learn woodworking so that they can teach to a curriculum put together by an educationalist. That’s no good, generally speaking.
I’ve tutored university graduates doing furniture degree courses that said they learned more in two weeks with me than they did in the whole of their three year degree course. I think that’s more than likely true. What was wrong was that educationalists took over woodworking (and metalworking too) and ousted the truly qualified teachers who came to teach with a woodworking background and replaced them with their own sorts and we who knew better but had our hands tied watched as it entered decline through five decades. Woodworking got dumbed down, kids did very little hands-on and the art of woodworking absolutely disappeared.
Fair’s fair, you cannot expect politicians, economists, educationalists and industrialists to understand the art of craft work. Whereas they are to blame because they thought they knew what they did not because they were born without thumbs. They could never grasp what we artisans feel and understand.
Give me ten kids of any age between 7 and sixteen for three hours, ten smart phones and ten sets of six woodworking tools and I guarantee that the ten smart phones will remain untouched for three hours and that all the wood and the tools will all have been worked with for a full three hours.