Students and faculty took advantage of the College’s first January Term to immerse themselves in innovative learning projects, including woodworking.
During the three-week J-Term, 176 students took part in 62 different activities – 14 off-campus projects with 10 of those outside the U.S., nine on-campus seminars, 24 independent study and group projects, and 15 internships.
Professor of English Jim Hood ’79 led the on-campus project Woodworking & Furniture History.
Eight students researched and made presentations about a furniture style or maker, and visited two furniture museums. They also applied themselves to woodworking itself using saws, planes, chisels and other tools in Hege-Cox Hall.
“There’s really a strong emphasis on experiential learning in the J-Term, so I wanted to do something tangible and visceral,” Jim said. “I’ve been a woodworker for about 30 years as a hobbyist, and I thought I’d give other people a chance to experience that.”
Ivey Long ’13 was among Jim’s students.
“The experience has been fantastic,” she said. “I’ve most enjoyed the process of watching everything come together so nicely – it’s really exciting to attach pieces for the first time – on my own project and on other people’s.”
One of the strengths of the J-Term format is the rare opportunity it provides to focus on a single subject, according to both Jim and Ivey.
“Furniture is really in the background of our lives,” Jim said. “It’s just kind of functional. I think it’s important to develop an appreciation for things in the background of our lives, and to take the time to focus in on things of which we are generally unaware.”
The three weeks were a welcome change of pace from the frequently frantic fall and spring semesters, Ivey said.
“This J-Term has been quiet and relaxing, which gave me a lot of time to focus solely on my project,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed the low-stress environment on campus, and having my time structured in the same way every day is very refreshing.”
Story by David Pferdekamper ’12