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Teaching Craftsmanship: On Skills and Boys’ Hands

The book of Genesis tells us that God made man ut operaretur—that he may work. Far from a punishment for the Fall, work is an essential part of man’s original vocation. Indeed, it is precisely as a craftsman—a tektōn, in the Greek—who does his work well (cf. Mark 6:3) that Jesus was identified in the Gospels. Education, therefore, even a liberal arts education, ought to take into account this important aspect of man’s nature. 

This week on HeightsCast, we welcome John Paul Lechner and Dr. Joseph Haggarty to discuss how a craftsmanship class can fit into the education students receive at a liberal arts school. Both teachers at Sparhawk Academy in Millis, Massachusetts, Lechner and Haggarty explain how students at Sparhawk engage reality through their unique craftsmanship curriculum. They give examples of the ways even their younger students learn to craft meaningful works for their families and community while gaining skills that will serve them for life.

Mr. Lechner and Dr. Haggarty help us see the ways craftsmanship class contributes to the formation of these boys so full of energy and budding strength.


  • 2:25 Introduction 
  • 3:10 Origin of Sparhawk’s craftsmanship courses
  • 6:15 Craftsmanship in the younger years 
  • 7:19 Craftsmanship and the liberal arts
  • 12:30 A brief history of craftsmanship
  • 15:10 The dignity of working with one’s hands 
  • 16:20 Examples of projects 
  • 23:20 Learning to use energy and strength well
  • 26:35 Getting started with craftsmanship 

Recommended Reading 

Shop Class as Soulcraft by Matthew Crawford 

About the Guests

John Paul Lechner

Director of Academics and Formation, Sparhawk Academy

John Paul Lechner grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended Northridge Prep. He earned his BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied History and Spanish. He joined the faculty of The Heights School in 2009, where he taught grades 7-8 and mentored hundreds of boys in his nine years there. In 2018 he completed his MA in Liberal Arts at St. John’s in Annapolis, MD and then moved north to Boston. From 2019-2022 he served as Director of the Sebago Leadership Camp while also teaching at Sparhawk. Mr. Lechner has learned a lot developing the farm at Sparhawk, enjoying the opportunities to enhance the grounds through landscaping and share the beauty through photography.

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Joseph Haggarty

History, Math, and Science Teacher, Sparhawk Academy

Joseph Haggarty finished his graduate studies in Philosophy at Boston College in 2015, after earning a Masters there and a BA in Philosophy at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California. He has taught at many levels, including as an Assistant Professor at TAC and as an Adjunct Professor at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton. Mr. Haggarty also taught middle school and high school for two years at Trivium School in Lancaster. He lives in Millis with his wife Caroline and their 6 children.

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