Why We Teach Blacksmithing at the Austin Waldorf School
At the Austin Waldorf School, 9th and 10th-grade students participate in blacksmithing classes where they learn to bend metal through the use of heat and force, creating both useful and beautiful items. Yet, if this class has no relation to achievement tests or standardized testing, why waste valuable school time on a subject that has long been dead?
I will give you two answers, the long one and the short one.
The short answer as to why we do this is:
Because it’s blacksmithing!
It’s very empowering to cut through solid steel, to use the four elements of earth, air, water, and fire to bend the iron to our will. Blacksmiths are the sources of legends in every society and our students are a part of that wonder.
Blacksmithing is the practical application of theoretical ideas. The act of forging implements Newton’s Laws of Motion, we learn the physics of heat transfer, we start to understand colloquialisms we’ve heard in life like “Strike while the iron is hot!”
We incorporate history, movement, chemistry, and physics all in one class. The defining trait of being a human is the making and using of tools, all of which came from the blacksmith. The students use the skills they learn to produce beautiful articles that are also functional.