Humanity Unfolds Itself: Handcrafts and the Boy

First, just this quote from George MacDonald:

To become able to make something is, I think, necessary to thorough development.  I would rather have a son of mine a carpenter, a watchmaker, a woodcarver, a shoemaker, a jeweler, a blacksmith, a bookbinder, than I would have him earn his bread as a clerk in a counting house.  Not merely is the cultivation of operant faculty a better education in faculty, but it brings the man nearer to everything operant; humanity unfolds itself to him the readier; its ways and thoughts and modes of being grow the clearer to both intellect and heart...what advantage the carpenter of Nazareth gathered from his bench, is the inheritance of every workman, in proportion as he does divine, that is, honest work.
-from There and Back

Our handcraft maven, Bobby Jo, was busy with a move so our TBG Community set the handcrafts section aside for a few weeks. My 15-year-old son had been making survival bracelets like crazy, experimenting with different weaves and wondering if he could fashion a device that might make it easier to tie. He overheard me talking about the situation with handcrafts and volunteered to teach handcrafts to the other students in our CM Community!

"Really?" I thought. "Okay," I said aloud,"but you have to really think this through and present it just like a teacher, you know."

"I got it, Mom." he said.

And he did.  He worked through the steps involved in carefully instructing 13 other students and for the most part, did a great job.  I don't know why these things surprise me, as taking charge of his education, being helpful, and being of use is all part of this relational philosophy.

I have been reading and thinking about Charlotte Mason's words on Vocation.  Here are a few gems:

"Boys and girls who would be ready for their chances in life must have well-trained, active bodies; alert, intelligent, and well-informed minds; and generous hearts, ready to dare and do all for any who may need their help." 4.206

"The intention to be of use is not enough. We must get the habit, the trick, of usefulness." 4.207

"The worth of any calling depends upon its being of use; and no day need go by without giving us practice in usefulness. Each one is wanted for the special bit of work he is fit for; and, of each, it is true that -

     "Thou cam'st not to thy place by accident:
      It is the very place God meant for thee." 4.210

Sigh. Lofty thoughts, yet true. Each of us can practice being of use every day. Keep encouraging your children along these lines, too.  This same son is reading slowly through Mason's Ourselves, Our Souls and Bodies and so takes time each week to really think hard about this sort of thing.  

As an aside, I asked him what his favorite books are this term and he told me that Eric Sloane's A Reverence for Wood and Mr. Midshipman Hornblower by C.S. Forester were the two he enjoys the most. Pretty good choices, I think, especially coming from a son I wouldn't call a voracious reader.

May all your goings be graces,

DS recommends the kits from Paracord Planet.  Each kit has enough to make 10 complete bracelets, including directions plus you can find a million variations on the internet.  All you need is a lighter and sharp scissors. They make great gifts for guys, too!

Also, he did make a holding device to help the process-



  1. Love those last 2 photos and seeing the creativity in coming up with the holding device!
    It's so fun to see him step up like that and present such a fun handcraft to our group :)
    And regarding that 1st quote, I read the term "honest work" a lot. Interesting...

  2. Rejoicing, and loving that which you share, the quotes, the talk about your boy, the words and pictures.

  3. lovely! Impressive! Wish we lived closer so my 10 year old son could have joined in on this one!

  4. Wow, this is awesome! My son will love these, I am going to put them on my wish list. How fantastic that your son put his hand up to do the teaching, a proud moment for you mama.

  5. Hi Nancy! Would your son have any tips on how to get bracelets to come out the right size? My 10 yr old has attempted paracord bracelets 3 times, using various recommendations for how to choose the lengths, and they have never come out a good size for him, which is, of course, discouraging. Thank you! Hope your travels home were safe & uncomplicated!