Why handwork? Handwork serves as the link between academic study and the demands of the real world. On one hand, handwork reinforces what our students are learning in the classroom through curricular connections to science and history. On the other hand, it teaches them the life skills they need to be successful both in the classroom environment and beyond. 

Handwork teaches students to become makers, fixers, and doers by introducing creativity and craft into their daily lives. While practicing crafts like sewing, weaving, book arts, and paper cutting and folding, students are introduced to a form of problem solving: they learn to think things through, that struggling is okay, that when frustration meets perseverance it often leads to discovery and invention, and that there can be many ways to solve a problem. They emerge from the process more confident and self-assured, having discovered that their hands and minds are more capable than they thought. Most importantly, they are encouraged to try everything and to never give up.

Handwork also introduces students to traditional toys and tools and natural dying, helping them to understand that humankind has not always existed in today’s world of convenience, and connecting them to past societies when humans needed to be more self-sufficient. Understanding and using these tools shows students one way that history, science, technology, and imagination are relevant to our world. Handwork is also an integral part of the EcoSPACES program – when students use natural materials to make art, they see how the earth supports us, and learn the importance of stewardship. Finally, it is essential to the philosophy of handwork that we do not give the students grades. We firmly believe that the motivation for participating in handwork should be the personal reward of becoming more capable and proficient, rather than competition between students.

Philip's Academy Charter School

342 Central Avenue
Newark, NJ 07103
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