Since our building closure in mid-March, NBSS has upended its educational model. With all students and faculty remaining safely at home, our community has launched into untested waters: remote learning.
At first glance, it may seem as though what we teach can't be translated to the virtual world. The Sloyd system of manual arts training (reads: "hand-based") is the core of our educational philosophy, after all. But while you have to use your hands, Sloyd is not location dependent—the framework of progressing through lessons of increasing complexity can be applied to any project, anywhere.
Since we can't meet in person for the time being, our faculty have explored a wide range of methods and tools to teach their students. Many are maintaining hand skills with projects that can be done from the kitchen table, while others are building business and marketing know-how. A few programs have taken on reading and research projects they don't usually have time to cover during the regular school year. Almost all are using Zoom regularly to stay connected, catch up, and provide feedback or instruction. (Our Continuing Education instructors are involved too, experimenting with video lessons that could be done from home with minimal tools.)
The type of work being done now varies widely by program, and is wholly unique to each class:
- Preservation Carpentry students are surveying historic buildings near them and writing reports of their preservation assessments.
- Carpentry students are utilizing Google classroom to teach the principles and math of roof and timber framing.
- Cabinet & Furniture Making and Bookbinding programs have partnered with publishers Lost Art Press, Guild of Bookworkers, and Fine Woodworking to dig into research-based projects. These companies have generously shared their books and articles free-of-charge to our students.
- Piano Technology and Locksmithing & Security Technology students have been given info from hypothetical clients and tasked with quoting out the job to be done – important practice for real-world work to come.
- Violin Making & Repair students are getting a jump on research papers needed for graduation.
- Jewelry Making & Repair students are working remotely in groups, keeping them connected with units on the technical complexities of joining and attaching at a jewelry scale.
The move into online instruction is no small feat, and our community has flexed like never before in response. Though we acknowledge there's no substitution for in-person instruction, the creativity, passion, and willingness to stay the course has been truly inspiring, and is a testament to the strength and character of our community.
Once we've all returned to the building, and even after graduation, we know that the lessons learned now will continue to serve both the School, and our students, well for years to come. In the meantime, we can't wait to learn what other new ideas they'll try next.