Friday, April 13, 2007

I've been re-reading Frank Wilson's book, The Hand: How Its Use shapes the Brain, Language and Human Culture. It is a wonderful explanation of the significant role of the hands in our lives, and fully explains why the purposeful engagement of the hands is necessary in education.

The book, published in 1998 should be enough to turn the tide in American education, and yet, we know things move very slowly. It took Don Imus 38 years in shock-jock radio culminating in his attack on innocent young women basketball players for the American public to awaken to the senselessness and verbal brutality of his program. The Almighty Dollar rules our nation. If you can make a buck, or a million bucks by displaying your senseless dehumanizing verbal brutality, "Great! Go for it!" Right?

In the schools, the Great God of the American Dollar has a different angle. If we can save a few bucks, "Let's do it!" We can make the students sit doing nothing except listening, then we can test them to see what they've learned. If some teacher happens to stumble onto some new technique that force feeds his students with the required knowledge in a more efficient manner, we can pay a bonus! Schools should be run on a business model like Walmart! Right? Lower prices. Cheaper goods.

Do you see a parallel? Being attacked verbally by a human monster is one thing. Having your humanity stripped from you by a system that isolates you, your life and your thoughts from the use of your hands is something else. Right?

The removal of the hands from learning is much more subtle. It is on a wider scale. It isn't generally applied to just a single race or class. We do it to all our children. We've created a system that deprives all our children of the essential expression of their humanity. And then, we see little reason to do anything about it.

Counting down from the Hand's publication date of 1998, and if it takes 38 years for America to come to its senses, we have 29 more years to go, a generation and a half, with unimaginable consequences for our children. Look for the revolution to come in American education in 2036 unless you want to join up and push for one now.

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