Wednesday, December 10, 2008

James Crichton-Browne and the Hand

When we had taken Lucy to Columbia University for the start of her sophomore year, a small stack of books was waiting for me in her university mailbox, discards from the Columbia Teacher's College Library. Unfortunately very few in education are interested anymore in the value of the hands in learning and books like these are no longer relevant to University libraries (even to the best). The following is from T.W. Berry's book The Pedagogy of Educational Handcraft.

Sir James Crichton-Browne— "The nascent period of the hand centres has not been accurately measured ... but its most active epoch being from the fourth to the fifteenth year, after which these centres in the large majority of persons become somewhat fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency ever afterwards.

"The small muscles of the eye, ear, larynx, tongue, and hand have much higher and more extensive intellectual relations than the large muscles of the trunk and limbs. If you would attain to the full intellectual stature of which you are capable, do not, I would say, neglect the physical education of the hand."

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