Monday, July 20, 2009

spitwads, pigtails in inkwells

We know that kids in the classroom will seek creative outlets as a means to find relief from oppression. Hence the making of spitwads. I've made a few myself. In earlier days, when desks were equipped with inkwells, a quickly dipped pigtail was another effort to regain one's sense of control under depressing circumstances.

Kids are just not to be trusted are they?

Some time ago, I rode a passenger jet into our local airport (XNA) and my nearest neighbor Lynn was a trainer for Ken Blanchard Companies of One Minute Manager fame. We talked about the hands... and strategies to keep students engaged in learning.

Can you see how the making of spitwads, might actually have benefits in the classroom? Would it be better to have students creatively engaged as an alternative to numbed on ritalin, emotionally disengaged and senseless?

A strategy Lynn and other Ken Blanchard trainers use is to have manipulative objects on the conference table. Playdough, pipe cleaners and other objects, when manipulated have the power to creatively engage the mind at conference time. So is it better to have minds present at the table?

Now, my query... if top corporate trainers understand the ways hands bring creative engagement of their students, why are American educators stuck in the dark ages? Perhaps we are expecting the wrong things from our students... compliance and conformity rather than creativity and engagement.


  1. Anonymous10:03 AM

    This is not a comment about your post but I did not know how else to contact you. I spent the day with Still on the Hill. They are truly and AR Treasure. There stories about life in AR and the people not to mention the music were something I will savour till the day I die. I even got to play the guitar of Ed's that is shown in the youtube video I shaed with you last year. They have a disc out that is totally about AR and it's unique people. They represent what is trully good about this country. They are the warmest and humblest folks I have ever met. Living here in Chicago can be a souless experience but whren you spend time with Kelly and Donna it reafirms your faith in mankind. I hope you take the time to discover their special magic. Arkansas should name them a state treasure. Check them out Doug, I forwarded to them your blog site as well as discussed the Wisdom of the Hands. They would love to here from you. Go see a performance by this lovely couple it will blow your mind. We have gotten so far away from stuff like theirs and we msut continue to make sure to tell folks that consuming your way to heaven is a souless way to die. Like my grandfather said. "If it's free it's worth saving up for". My email if you so desire is
    Scrap Wood

  2. Bob, we have had Still on the Hill perform at our library, so while I don't know them personally, I do know of their work. One of the programs they presented was on the orphan trains.

    Yes, I agree they are phenomenal.

    I like your grandfather's saying.


  3. Anonymous1:41 AM

    Greetings Doug,

    I've been following your blog for awhile now and find it all very interesting. I remember as early as 6th grade I was always bored with lectures and anytime I couldn't be either making (or destroying) something. Mostly during class I would be getting in trouble for not paying attention to what the teacher was going over, I was usually too busy drawing, coloring and making origami boxes and birds. I sometimes wonder if the teachers ever stopped to wonder why I was always an A and B student when I never seemed to pay attention? Did they think you really had to sit and stare at thier every move and hang on every word to know what they were talking about? Usually during tests I could recall certain information because I would remember the pictures I was drawing at that moment or what new animal I learned to fold out of paper that day. Now as an Instructor myself, I've been arguing with conventional and traditional standards in my area about how to feed information to our students. I find that leaving equipment on the tables for them to handle and "play" with while we are giving lectures lets them physically see, touch, and explore instead of looking at the pictures in books and powerpoints. There is definately a connection with the hands that cannot be overlooked. It's one method of study and student engagement that spans countless fields of study.

    James Fagerburg

  4. James thank you for your comment. I think there are more of us than most educational systems will concede. The challenge is in how to get the point across. And of course, the good thing to remember is that we are not alone.

    Let's keep watching, observing our hands in relation to the brain, and share with others what we've discovered in ourselves. It will catch on.