I sometimes conduct a polishing lab for my students. Co-workers provide all the silver and brass while my students spend time cleaning and shining the wares. It is a messy, stinky, and tiring process. And rewarding.
Students enter the classroom, and being greeted by the metallic stench of cleaning pastes, exclaim, “What is this?” They groan, complain, accuse me of inflicting child labor, and eventually, become so involved with their task that they do not want to quit until every bit of dullness polished away. As the students labor over a spoon from an heirloom silver set or a petal from a Mid-Century brass flower ashtray, their standard of work quality increases. They do not want to stop working on a piece until it sparkles!
At the end of the lab, I like to give the students the opportunity to reflect upon the activity. I might prompt them with a question, such as, “Why do you think we polished silver during our English class today?” Their responses range from comments like, “We should do this every day!” to “It helps us understand the reward of hard work.”
My best days are those I approach as a polishing lab.