Monday, July 09, 2007

A bit more from Dr. Adler 1880:

It is ...the object of our common schools to give the poorest and least-favored children the same preliminary education that we should wish for all our own sons and daughters. What should that education include? It would include, if we are wise, not only what is taught in our public schools, but something more. That something more is something which many wise parents.. Are now forced to supply out of private means for their children--the rudimentary training of hand as well as eye. To learn to drive a nail straight, how to inset a screw neatly, how to fit the edges of a plank together, how to make a square box (my specialty), is to obtain an elementary education almost as essential as to know that two and two make four. It is really the principle of two and two, worked out with the hand as well as the brain; it is to abstract knowledge what geometry is to algebra.
It is not necessary to carry it very far, or to apply it to a variety of forms. A little of it goes a great way; but that little is so important that early education is very defective without it. It is not enough to "pick it up." A boy of natural mechanical aptitude will pick it up in his father's workshop or in a boat-builder's shop. But most boys have no access to such place; and if they had; there is no one to teach them to do it carefully; and, moreover, the boys who have least mechanical aptitude are those who most need such training. Any man who can remember the delight with which he first learned to do neatly and accurately any simple thing with his hands-- learned from a sailor to tie a knot, or from a farmer to turn a furrow-- ought to recognize the value of making it a part of every child's training; not to do those particular things, but to use his ten fingers carefully and methodically, in the simplest, cheapest, and most convenient way.

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