...a lesson that the arts can teach education is that literal language and quantification are not the only means through which human understanding is secured or represented. So much of schooling privileges discursive language and the use of number that types of intelligence and forms of understanding not represented in these forms are given marginal status. It must be acknowledged, of course, that the abilities to read, to write, and to compute are of crucial importance. Students who cannot read, write, or compute are in deep trouble. But important though these skills are, they do not encompass all of what people know or the ways in which what they know is given public status. We appeal to poetry to say what cannot be expressed in literal language. We secure from images ideas and other forms of experience that elude discursive description. We experience through music qualities of lived experience that cannot be rendered in quantitative form. In short, our sensibilities and the forms of representation associated with them make distinctive contributions to what we notice, grasp and understand. As Pascal said, "The heart has its reasons that the head knows not."The current plan in Texas to eliminate wood shop programs from the state approved curriculum is evidence of the failure of academia to grasp the value of hands-on learning and hands-expressed intelligence. According to Eisner, "The long term result of such deprivation is a diminution of the varieties of life that students are able to lead."
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Elliot Eisner, non-linguistic intelligence
I realize that when I, a craftsman, challenge academia for failure to acknowledge the intelligence expressed through the hands, some might be offended. After all, who am I, a simple teacher and craftsman to challenge modern education? But my purpose is not to offend, but to simply assert the value, the intelligence, and dignity of hands-on work and hands-on learning. To that end, I quote the following from Elliot Eisner's the Arts and the Creation of Mind: