Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Boatbuilding in a Nation of Two-Finger Texters and Page-Swipers?

One of the meme's of modern American culture is we have lost our DIY aptitude (a characteristic particularly attached to the millennial generation). We don't fix our cars, we don't fix our houses, we don't build things..we pay someone else to do it. I was reminded of this when reading the geeky but very informative Professional Boatbuilder magazine (by the same publisher of Woodenboat magazine).. They did an article on Chesapeake Light Craft, the plywood boat-kit builders based here in Annapolis. Chesapeake Light Craft spends an inordinate amount of time trying to make their plans and kits so comprehensive there is very little room for error. I then read the following paragraph and my jaw dropped.
Some customers are so unskilled that it would be better not to sell them a plan or a kit. "So many people these days can't read plans at all. When a part is symmetrical around an axis and the plans only show half a part, some people build half the part. That's happened twice in the last month. One guy made half of the deck and the bottom. We were very nice. I guess if you can't laugh, you have to cry...You can't make assumptions about anybody."[Professional Boatbuilder, Number 152, pg. 26]

Hmm! maybe we are becoming a nation of hopeless klutzes.


Tillerman said...

LOL. That sounds like the kind of mistake that I would make!

bonnie said...

I am currently reading Temple Grandin's Animals Make Us Human and just finished a section on how we don't do hands-on learning as much these days. She says of her students, "I see all kinds of problems with college students who have never had an art class or built anything themselves." She goes on to tell a story about a student in a livestock handling system design class that she teaches. This requires some drafting (makes sense, right?) and she's found that more and more students just don't know how to draw. She has them buy some simple tools to use, like a compass; this one student came back and told Dr. Grandin that she couldn't figure out how to make different sized circles with it.

"I found out she had bought a Boy Scout compass and was tracing a circle around its circumference".


Tillerman said...

We are all differently abled.

George A said...

Stuff like this used to annoy me, but I've come to realize that skills are retained or lost depending on how vital they are to daily life. How many people do you know who can still identify a choice piece of flint and then knap it into a spear point or arrow head? This was a common skill 10,000 years ago when it was important for getting along in life. Likewise, today, many people couldn't drive a nail straight if their lives depended on it. A daily deal breaker? Hardy. If a skill becomes important I suspect most people can acquire it. Some day I might even learn how to program all the digital clocks in my house.

Tweezerman said...

Bonnie, I agree with you. The ability to communicate and interpret the 3D world is an integral part of the history of modern human progress.

Computers have allowed us to circumvent some education. I never took any statistics courses in any of my formal education but I spent a large part of career dissecting data six ways to Sunday with statistics programs. Similarly I never took any formal hull design courses but have been able to draw up sailboat designs through computer fairing programs. I have a collection of small sailboat plans (as does George A.) and the hand drawn ones I consider a work of art. You should see the Steve Lysak rendition of the International Canoe Nethercott lines. I'm waiting for a maritime museum to do a show of only boat plans (the amount of information they could fit on one sheet is amazing.)