Friday, February 26, 2010

Building a John Gardner Banks Dory

The industrial arts teacher at the Toledo, Oregon(US) high school asked me to teach his kids to build a boat.
"What design?" I asked.
"Your choice."

What's a doryman to do? Why, build a dory of course!

So that's what we'll do, in fact, a Banks dory, as detailed by John Gardner in his fabulous "Dory Book".

I was told that there would be a couple young people, probably juniors or seniors and that they would have wood working skills, so we could concentrate on boat design and the building process.

...high schools have become encampments of refugees. The inhabitants don't want to be there and there are so few teachers and support staff on the ground that you might think there weren't any. Apparently they don't see many volunteers either and a sucker can be spotted from miles away...

over a four hour period, I have six boys. All but two are freshmen and none of them have ever worked with a tool in their lives. They have the math skills of eight-year-olds. I am so glad I'm here! Obviously these young fellows need some guidance.
They are great people. And a boat building class is just what they need.

Though they did not sign up voluntarily and hardly know what a boat is, after two weeks these guys are really interested in what we are doing and anxious to learn. I feel honored. It's apparent that some of them have never had this kind of focused attention before.

One of my boys was described to me as having special needs and was very reticent at first, but he has opened up so remarkably that the teacher is amazed. He has a very hard time with the tools, but struggles mightily and has a very high standard of success. We have a limited number of tools, so a bit of competition has developed over who can do the best job, while the others watch.

The teacher of these classes raised the money for his shop from the community and over the last four years the students have assisted in building their own facility.

Every bit of scrap wood and metal from the new building has been salvaged for use in the classes, which teach metal working and wood working simultaneously. The frame for our dory is made from the recycled wood the kids have cleaned up and sorted for just such a use.

We've spent the last two weeks building a ladder frame and setting up stations.
Hopefully this frame will remain in the shop for future boat building crews. My guys will be making full sized patterns to simplify the next build. Who knows? Maybe some of them will mentor other students and go on to be dorymen themselves!


O Docker said...

Math skills? Isn't there an app for that?

doryman said...

One of my guys has been home schooled. He's sixteen and in public school for the first time.
No math.
How did that happen?!?
Don't get me on the subject of the dumbing-down of this country, I might go off.
Teachers tell me that they don't assign homework anymore because the kids will simply not do any.
Another boy, a freshman, couldn't add twelve and four.
Believe me, we are going to work on that!!

callsign222 said...

Well hurdles be damned, full speed ahead! Think about how you're making the world a better place. Good on you.

doryman said...

I told the guys that it would be a lot more fun learning math while building a boat. I think they believe me.