Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bringing our kids back to the Stone Age

This is my honing stone. 
Before that it was my Mom's. 
Before that it was Grannie's, my Mom's mom.

It has worked, and worked well, for over 50 years, and I expect that it has another half-century left in it.
Behind it is my favorite knife. It is a wedge and a lever, two simple machines. Knives work by separating and ripping through molecules.

I like sharpening my knife. It is an Old World skill. I like the heft of the knife, the sound of steel on stone, the memories of my genetic past that held this same stone.

The honing stone bends the edge of the knife back its ideal position, but at an imperceptible cost.
Over the years, the stone erodes, and each millimeter or two of depression represents years of our lives.
While we spin tales of modern life, urging ourselves to greater heights, rushing through our days, the basics remain (as they ever will) the same.

We eat, we breathe, we grow, we love, we die. The stone connects me to the knife which connects me to the food I will eat. The gap in the stone connects me to my Mom and to her Mom, and will, someday, connect my child to me.

Knives and honing stones are technological wonders. We forget the wonders of steel because so few of us recognize its raw materials, few of us are aware of the tremendous amount of energy needed to create the blade we take for granted. We marvel at high tech machines, yet not one in a thousand of us could make a good steel knife.

If a child cannot sharpen a knife, cannot prepare his own food, cannot imagine the animal slaughtered before it ends up on his table nor the kernel of corn that grew into his corn chips, we are not doing him any favors pushing him into the fantastical world of high tech machines.

Yet that is what we do, every day, in almost every public school.

That stone above will outlive any and all of us.

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