Friday, February 16, 2007

Let's develop a strategy...that puts the hands back at the center of learning. How do we do what needs to be done? If you are a parent, (or a grandparent) it may be easy and fun. Do things with your kids. Provide them with some tools and materials and the place and opportunity to work. Scissors and paper can be enough to get you started. Your children will need your hands-on involvment. Don't sit at the sidelines. Become a creative role model. Cook, make stuff, play in the garden, get out the art supplies. Get your own hands dirty and make a mess...not as a bystander, but as a full fledged, enthusiastic participant in creative messy-art making. If you don't have a child, but are interested in creating meaningful hands-on learning opportunities for the children (or adults) in your community, go out and get acquainted with the members of your local school board. Tell them about the Wisdom of the Hands and point them to this blog if they seem to show the slightest interest. Taking American education into our own hands is a concept way past due. It's subversive, but subversive can be a very good thing.

When my daughter was 2 or 3 my wife and I made a small table and chair set which we painted and decorated with stenciling. It's stored in the attic now, being saved for when Lucy has children of her own. We spent long hours sitting in the tiny chairs modeling things from clay, from pipe cleaners, folded from paper or cut out with scissors. If you want to give your child the opportunity for growth most appropriate to becoming a creative and responsible human being, a place to be creative and make messes with craft work is a far better contribution than a computer or laptop. Children will grow to sensibly engage in high technology later, after the real world provides a sensible foundation for their experience. Make certain that the television is off. My most creative students at Clear Spring School have been the ones who grew up without television and did more interesting things. Instead of searching for idle entertainments, they made things of their own invention and worked in service of the needs of their families. In other words, plan your child's life to engage in real experience instead of distraction and escape.

The photo above is of my daughter Lucy at her play table. Do you think she was having fun?

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