Monday, March 05, 2007

I find it endlessly fascinating and disturbing to watch the flow of ideas in our culture. My town of Eureka Springs is a microcosm. I watch ideas emerge to the surface, and the first question people have doesn't concern the merits of the idea, but the constant query, "who thought it up?" or "whose idea is that, anyway?" I find it tragic that my own home town can be so polarized that we would waste-can great ideas without really even exploring their merits. It hurts here, it hurts on the national scene, and it hurts internationally. The opportunties lost by the death of great ideas has profound effect on us all.

In this morning's post, I mentioned the difficulties in marketing sloyd to the world due to the complexity of its ideas. There were other issues afoot, and one that I can't let pass without some mention.

One of the things of note about Educational Sloyd was that it was envisioned, developed and promoted by a Jew. You can perhaps imagine the days before World Wars I and II, and the hostility within society for Jews and for ideas developed and promoted by Jews. It was a problem faced by Otto Salomon, and by his uncle August Abrahamson who built the school at Nääs and paid for thousands of people from around the world to attend. Open hostility toward Jews led to the concerted effort by Nazis in Germany to exterminate the Jews from all occupied territories in WWII. A German friend of mine, Hans Jaochim Reincke, has written an interesting paper after extensive research documenting the effects of anti-Semitism on the distribution of Educational Sloyd, even here in the United States. While I don't want to dwell on that part of the past, I think it is important to understand human dynamics, whether we are looking at the microcosm of Eureka Springs, or the history of Educational Sloyd.

In the presentation of educational ideas, the question will always arise, "whose idea is that?" If I were one who grew out from the Ivy hallowed halls of Yale or Harvard, you know people would be 1000 times more likely to take my ideas as having merit. That's OK, however. I'm young and in good health. Anyone who takes time to observe and give attention to his or her own hands will know greater truth than you will find in those halls built as they are upon the separation of the hand from the heart.

The photo above is of Otto Salomon in about 1905

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