Event Title

Zen and the Art of Chainsaw Maintenance

Presenter Information

G. Andrew Bartholomay

Location

Peavy/Richardson Halls

Event Website

http://uenr.forestry.oregonstate.edu/

Start Date

15-3-2008 11:30 AM

End Date

15-3-2008 12:00 PM

Description

Just as Pirsig’s (1974) account of his motorcycle adventure explores the dichotomy of holistic and reductionistic philosophies, so too does a short course in chainsaw safety and tree felling incorporate these seemingly disparate viewpoints into a critical thinking exercise. Students entering college often lack critical thinking skills (National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983). The chainsaw course described here addresses this disparity via the transmission of two types of information: (1) subject matter and (2) how to process that subject matter (Schafer 1991); the latter is the essence of critical thinking. The chainsaw course has three modules taught over two days. Module one covers safety equipment and chainsaw techniques. Module two covers the disassembly and maintenance of the chainsaw. Module three allows the student to assess field conditions and integrate learned theories to safely fell trees. Over twelve hours, the student experiences authority-centered lecture, reductionistic discovery-based learning, and critical thinking. The objective is to formulate a holistic solution (felling a tree into a desired space) from integrated reductionist principles (forces and techniques). The expected outcomes for this course are a better understanding of safety and knowledge of one’s technical limitations. I found, however, that students also develop a renewed interest in their chosen curricula, a more mature interaction with faculty, and an attitude of inquiry that permeates their continuing academic pursuits. I believe the noted changes in philosophical direction result from the combination of a uniquely interesting subject, an informal student/teacher relationship (student/teacher ratio of 3/1), and a rapid application of knowledge to confirm cause and effect. This philosophy lesson, disguised as a chainsaw safety course, can be replicated under many pretexts. The keys to implementation are to find a subject of passionate interest to students, share one’s expertise, and challenge the students to find tangible solutions to real questions.

Comments

Session #5: Fostering Critical Thinking. Presentation for 7th Biennial Conference on University Education in Natural Resources, March 13-15, 2008, Corvallis, Oregon. Featured in the ScholarsArchive@OSU in Oregon State University. Suggested Citation: Bartholomay, G.A. 2008. Zen and the art of chainsaw maintenance. UENR 7th Biennial Conference, ScholarsArchive at Oregon State University. http://hdl.handle.net/1957/8169

 
Mar 15th, 11:30 AM Mar 15th, 12:00 PM

Zen and the Art of Chainsaw Maintenance

Peavy/Richardson Halls

Just as Pirsig’s (1974) account of his motorcycle adventure explores the dichotomy of holistic and reductionistic philosophies, so too does a short course in chainsaw safety and tree felling incorporate these seemingly disparate viewpoints into a critical thinking exercise. Students entering college often lack critical thinking skills (National Commission on Excellence in Education 1983). The chainsaw course described here addresses this disparity via the transmission of two types of information: (1) subject matter and (2) how to process that subject matter (Schafer 1991); the latter is the essence of critical thinking. The chainsaw course has three modules taught over two days. Module one covers safety equipment and chainsaw techniques. Module two covers the disassembly and maintenance of the chainsaw. Module three allows the student to assess field conditions and integrate learned theories to safely fell trees. Over twelve hours, the student experiences authority-centered lecture, reductionistic discovery-based learning, and critical thinking. The objective is to formulate a holistic solution (felling a tree into a desired space) from integrated reductionist principles (forces and techniques). The expected outcomes for this course are a better understanding of safety and knowledge of one’s technical limitations. I found, however, that students also develop a renewed interest in their chosen curricula, a more mature interaction with faculty, and an attitude of inquiry that permeates their continuing academic pursuits. I believe the noted changes in philosophical direction result from the combination of a uniquely interesting subject, an informal student/teacher relationship (student/teacher ratio of 3/1), and a rapid application of knowledge to confirm cause and effect. This philosophy lesson, disguised as a chainsaw safety course, can be replicated under many pretexts. The keys to implementation are to find a subject of passionate interest to students, share one’s expertise, and challenge the students to find tangible solutions to real questions.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cuenr/7thBiennial/Sessions/23