Tuesday, January 06, 2009

let the force be with you?

Translation from Swedish to English and from an earlier century to this one can be challenging, as single words can convey worlds of meaning.

In my assistance in adapting a literal translation of Hans Thorbjörnsson's History of Nääs to accurately describe Otto Salomon's educational ideas, the word "force" has come up. Hans says the following:
It is frustrating, trying to express oneself in a foreign language - especially when it comes to complicated, detailed contexts, for example pedagogical theories and ideas. What does a word like "force" mean? Susan and I think that it could be the same as the Swedish word "kraft" in the sense natural ability, dormant capacity, talent for something - within the child, not yet (fully) developed.
"force developing formal educational tool" alludes to what is said in the first paragraph about a child's potential talents. To try to develop these talents during sloyd work means using the sloyd subject as a formal (formative) instrument. Salomon regards sloyd to give first hand "formell bildning" (see the points on page 2: independence, cleanliness, sense of forme etc.) To be able to handle the tools and other sloyd skills means "materiell bildning" - utilitarian aims (in Theory of educational sloyd.)
It is evident that "force" is something that is to be drawn out from within the child, in the same manner that Rudolf Steiner sought the development of "will," a sense of purpose that arises in the child and propels him or her onward in education. Education is largely an esoteric phenomenon, in which that which is going into the child must mesh with that which is coming out from the child as expression. It is what was meant in Star Wars, when the rally cry, "Let the force be with you," challenged the warriors to seek internal alignment with objective reality and the momentum of history. Not a bad battle cry either for when a teacher enters the classroom each day.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:52 PM

    I can understand the frustration. I do Spanish-English translations for attorneys, business and schools. Sometimes it's very straightforward, but other times it can be a huge mental challenge. Language is tied not just to a culture, but to its moment. What a word meant then may not be what it means now.