Monday, 1 February 2016

More to Life with Woodworking, the Peyton High School Woods program

Lots of people contact Triton looking for support for their organisations. Usually it is for sponsorship or donations to help a worthy cause, and like most responsible organisations we do our best to help out where we can. Just occasionally, a request comes with a unique story that is worth both supporting, and in particular, sharing.

In many industrialised countries there is a growing understanding that the long-term educational  goal to put all kids through an advanced academic programme is missing an important point. Both students and even advanced economies need to have a base of practical skills – or in other words, people who can actually make things.

Vocational qualifications and aspirations have long been looked on as something for those who were not smart enough to achieve academically. In many places, even access to practical or craft subjects such as woodwork, metalwork, automotive etc, has become a rare opportunity at high school level. So without the active encouragement of a parent or grandparent or another suitable role model, very few young people are getting the chance to experience the joy that making or growing something with your own hands can bring.

Peyton, Colorado is a small town not far from Colorado Springs. With the prairie stretching out on one side and the Rocky Mountains in the background, it's pretty typical mid-America, though in one respect it's doing something really ground-breaking. By making great use of a previously abandoned building, they are reintroducing practical education - specifically woodworking - to the games console generation in spectacular style.

This is not the old woodworking programme of previous generations; this syllabus aims to teach advanced, professional, lean manufacturing techniques as well as hands-on design and construction to students with an equal weighting to more traditional academic subjects. It's a unique education and industry collaboration that is being seen as a model for similar programmes, not only in America but across the globe.
This short film provides a background to the programme, how it came about and where it's heading for the future. We love the way the students are supported by retired volunteers, bridging the generation gap and sharing not just practical skills but genuine life lessons. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.