Sunday, April 05, 2009


You may wonder where the educational precepts, "from simple to complex," "from concrete to abstract," from "known to unknown" came from. They were derived from Pestalozzi's doctrine "anschauung", which was intended to eliminate the verbosity involved in teaching, and lead children from passive learning toward activity.
"To get rid of the 'verbosity' of meaningless words Pestalozzi developed his doctrine of Anschauung - direct concrete observation, often inadequately called 'sense perception' or 'object lessons'. No word was to be used for any purpose until adequate Anschauung had preceded. The thing or distinction must be felt or observed in the concrete. Pestalozzi's followers developed various sayings from this: from the known to the unknown, from the simple to the complex, from the concrete to the abstract.

To perfect the perception got by the Anschauung the thing that must be named, an appropriate action must follow. 'A man learns by action... have done with [mere] words!' 'Life shapes us and the life that shapes us is not a matter of words but action'.

Out of this demand for action came an emphasis on repetition - not blind repetition, but repetition of action following the Anschauung." --William H. Kilpatrick in his introduction to Heinrich Pestalozzi (1951) The Education of Man - Aphorisms, New York: Philosophical Library.
To come to an understanding of Educational Sloyd, if you are of a mind to, you must first come to an understanding of Pestalozzi and then Froebel. If you miss those two parts of Educational Sloyd's foundation, you will not fully understand what Otto Salomon's purposes were. When teachers attended the Sloyd Teacher Academy at Nääs, only part of their lessons involved woodworking. They were also taught the theories of Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel and other important educational theorists through Salomon's lectures in Swedish, German, French and English. You can also see in Pestalozzi, the foundation for the system of models used in Sloyd. Each model offered repetition and refinement of earlier efforts, each adding greater sophistication in the understanding of the tools, their use, and the materials from which objects of increasing complexity and beauty might be formed.

Asking children to design first, before the materials, their best use, the tools and their effective use, and the potentials of both are understood, is an effective roadblock to the student's successful engagement in creativity and design. I had a clear experience of this on Thursday as students proposed projects. One wanted to make swords. I asked, "how are you on the table saw? Can you set up for those complicated cuts?" I assured them that my job was not to make things for them. By examining what the students knew how to do and the time constraints of the project, their desires to be creatively involved as individuals, and the available materials led us to their choice of making incense burners. They have one class day available next week to finish the project.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:09 AM

    the link to Pestalozzi is not working