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Critical Reflection Week 8

Jigs in the Practical Classroom-My Experience

Sean Graham
My first encounter with using jigs to aid me with practical work was in bench room one in Letterfrack back
when I was in first year of college. Before this I had never been exposed to or made aware of jigs and their
benefits in the woodworking industry. A jig is defined in Collins Complete Woodworks Manual as a device
that holds the work in a fixed location, guides a tool and provides repeatability and accuracy in the
manufacturing of products (Jackson, 2005).

The use of jigs can not only improve the accuracy of work but also can reduce the risk of accidents or injury
when using power tools. This stems back to the issue of Health and Safety and its importance in the practical
classroom. This is backed up by the Department of Education and Skills when they inform us that organising
and managing a safe and healthy school environment creates a situation where the whole school becomes
a better place in which to work and learn. (Skills, 2012)
When introduced to jigs in Letterfrack I was made aware of all the opportunities I had missed, throughout
secondary school, of using power tools due to my subject teachers being the only ones allowed to use power
tools. If there had been a suitable jig constructed it would have been perfectly safe for myself and other
students to use these power tools also. It was then I made the conscious decision that over the course of my
teaching career I was going to build up a collection of jigs that would allow students to safely operate certain
power tools.
My first opportunity to do this came about last week when it came to the manufacturing stage of the table
I am making with both my Second-Year Materials Technology Wood groups. The table would be jointed
together using domino and biscuit joints. I constructed six jigs in total that would allow for the safe and
accurate use of both the Biscuit Jointer and the Domino Jointer. I then gave demonstrations to the students
on how to use the tools and the jigs as well as what Personal Protective Equipment to wear while carrying
out the process. From discussions with both my co-operating teachers about tool safety and in particular
students using tools it was clear to see that both of them had similar ideas to my own. We all agreed that a
student can operate the majority of power tools in the classroom under the supervision of the teacher and
with the aid of an appropriate jig and with the correct Personal Protective Equipment.
It was also clear to see how engaged the students became in the lesson and it also is a great method of
incorporating the students in the learning. The students can learn so much more from actually completing
the process themselves as opposed to watching myself, as the teacher complete it. Alan Pritchard
strengthens this statement in his book Ways of Learning when he defines Learning by Doing as gaining
knowledge of, or skill in, something through experience or practice. (Pritchard, 2005). I was also trying to
come up with new ways of incorporating students in the learning as it was a suggestion for improvement
from my first Teaching Practice and the use of student friendly jigs in the classroom certainly helps me
achieve this. I have really seen the benefits of these jigs and am certain that I will design and construct many
more over the course of my teaching career.

tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn
Benjamin Franklin
Jackson, A. (2005). Collins Complete Woodworks Manual. London: HarperCollinsPublishers.

Pritchard, A. (2005). Ways of Learning. In Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classrrom (pp. 2-3). London:
David Fulton Publishers Ltd.

Skills, D. o. (2012). Guidelines on Managing Safety and Helth in Post Priamry Schools. Dublin: Department of Eduaction.

Some Examples of the Jigs for Second Year MTW Table