Monday, October 19, 2009

way back when

Years ago, most people in America had at least some understanding of the whole process of production. Even if you were a rich kid, you at least walked past the blacksmith shop on your way to school and may have been drawn close enough by your own curiosity and the ring of hammer on steel to see the muscles and sweat. You would have seen the farmer bringing his produce to town, and you would have taken outings in which you might have seen your next meals being raised on the farm.

We, as a nation have become so divorced from any semblance of understanding of how things are made, how things are grown or how we might take part in the making and growing, or how we might encourage things to be made. And that is not just a problem for the poor. While the children of the rich may have the security of trust fund, they often know little but investment on speculation. They know quite well about investing dollars. What they don't know and seem to have no hopes of knowing is the process through which human beings invest in each other's lives and growth. It is that particularly difficult challenge of secondary ignorance. They don't know they don't know, and thus have no intrinsic motivation for discovery.

Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders warns that the middle class in America is collapsing. The banks, and bankers have gone back to playing the same old slots, investing in their same old ways and in the same old things. But what could we reasonably expect? We have a nation in which nearly all have been sequestered from understanding. You can know the formulas for making your monetary investments and be completely sequestered from your own human cultural implications.

In the days of Educational Sloyd, one of its objectives was to nurture democracy by fostering a sense of the dignity of all labor. In order to accomplish this goal, all students in schools were exposed to wood shop. There they discovered the creative capacities of their own hands, and witnessed the contributions of others at all levels of society to sustain a meaningful culture. The rich from exposure to such an education, might in respect, use their resources to build businesses in which all might learn and grow. Instead, we have Wall St. where their dollars go into speculation according to formulas having no relationship to human growth or growth of community.

So we are in a mess. Unemployment continues to rise. Corporate CEOs continue to make 400 times the amount earned by a common employee. Wall Street is returning to big bonuses. The DOW is back up with record profits for the year. Banks, thanks to the bailout are thriving and some are reaching record profits, while people are losing their homes and jobs.

Wall St. bankers are not completely to blame nor are they aware of their ignorance, so it may not be reasonable to expect much help from their direction. Ditto the Gov. It is full of people hired from Wall Street. Besides, revolutions take place from the ground up, when citizens take matters into their own hands. Make, create, plant, nourish, tend, fix, grow. While economists are watching bottom lines, you can see real progress when it takes place in your own hands.


  1. Anonymous6:44 AM

    Im researching Homer Lane, (1875-1925) when he was at high school he took a course in Sloyd at a training school near by, if so would this off been the same training school in Boston?
    As one of his beliefs about childhood was known as thePath of Freedom" I get the feeling that he was heavily influenced by his training in Sloyd techniques, he also volunteered at local high school and taught sloyd to thise classes, do you know off any information about him? if so I would appreciate some.

  2. I don't have any information on Homer Lane, and was unfamiliar with him and his influence on education until your comment led me to look him up. It was commonly accepted among sloyd educators, that work with crafts had profound impact on the development of character for all students.

    How can a person make something, anything, without it being an expression and development of values? Sloyders knew this, and so Lane would have gotten a lot of his ideas from educational sloyd and its educational philosophy.