As a public school teacher I’ve long been a proponent of handwork in student learning. In the December issue of American Craft Magazine editor, Monica Moses writes:
Nick Offerman has a dream – to go back to school. The self-taught Los Angeles woodworker envisions a nine-year curriculum for himself. He’d start at College of the Redwoods on California’s Mendocino coast, in the renowned program begun by the late James Krenov.
“If I could just have three years off to go to that school,” he says longingly, “and then another three years to go to the North Bennet Street School in Boston, because that’s a whole other set of Federal and period techniques that are mind-blowing. And then I’d take a third three years and I’d go to the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin, Maine.”
It may be a little surprising that Offerman harbors such yearnings. From the outside, he appears to want for nothing. He’s not only an accomplished furniture maker, but also a star of a hit TV series, Parks and Recreation, where he plays Ron Swanson, one of the most memorably quirky characters on the small screen. He’s happily married to Megan Mullally, who played the charming nutcase Karen Walker on Will & Grace.
So why does this Hollywood big shot long for more schooling?
Because he knows firsthand – as so many committed craftspeople do – the thrills, comforts, and sheer grounding power of working with one’s hands. He knows that, when you learn new skills, you add to your manual, mental, and emotional toolbox. You multiply your opportunities for self-fulfillment. You learn to think in new ways. You make creative progress, and the benefits can be profound.
Read the remainder of this essay here.