Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Demo at St. Albans

Last week, Jeff had the opportunity to demonstrate blacksmithing at St. Albans School in D.C.  We'd met one of their amazing teachers, John Campbell, at another one of our blacksmithing events earlier this past year and had continued chatting about various ways to incorporate blacksmithing into his history curriculum.  Other teachers became interested, and Jeff ended up demonstrating for the World History, English and Cities classes at St. Albans. 

All the classes had been studying material that was connected to blacksmithing in some fashion.  The Cities class was studying metallurgy; the English classes studied Great Expectations, and the World History students studied the Industrial Revolution and the events leading up to it.  All in all, it made sense for Jeff to show them how nails were made and fit into the economy of colonial America and beyond. 

Some estimates say that there were over 100 million nails made a day in Europe by 50,000 nailers, each making about 2,000 nails a day during the colonial period.  Nails were commonplace at that time and a typical four room house took roughly 30,000 nails.  Nails are an important stepping stone in the development of an industrial society, and Jeff discussed the Wealth of Nations and compared the colonial blacksmthing of nails to their mass production.

One of our goals was to engage the boys in a practical way to express what they'd been learning in the classroom, and blacksmithing seemed to be a great fit.  We decided to start with a demo and use it to gauge the boys' interest in possibly starting a guild at the school.  Over 70 students participated in the demo, getting a chance to help forge a colonial-style nail.   The boys seemed very interested and enjoyed the day a lot. We are excited to see what develops!

These photos are from St. Albans' Facebook page.

No comments:

Post a Comment