A child must go on learning to coordinate, with more and more skill, his muscular movements if his body is to be developed to the highest standards of health and efficiency; and nothing contributes to this better than the controlled and rather delicate motions necessary for making things with the hands. The fact that he is making things gives just the stimulus the child needs to enable him to keep on at the task, to repeat over and over the same efforts of mind, hand and eye, to give him real control of himself in the process. The benefits of handwork on the utilitarian side are just as great. The child learns how to use the ordinary tools of life -- the scissors, knife, needle, plane, and saw -- and gets an appreciation of the artist's tools, paint and clay, which lasts the rest of his life. It he is a child with initiative and inventiveness, he finds a natural and pleasant outlet for his energies. If he is dreamy and impractical he learns a respect for manual work, and gains something toward becoming a well-rounded human being.These days, many children are introduced to computers, operating keyboard and mouse and skip over all the essential creative tools that pre-school students would have used in the past. So they come to school not knowing the basics of creativity. Some come to school never having used scissors. Teach first things first. Start with tools that allow the children to witness and understand the means through which their efforts are applied to the material. Start with tools that provide hands-on sensory feedback as to the structure, and density and tactile qualities of the materials. Through the hands-on manipulation and exploration of materials, the entire thrust of scientific exploration is recreated within their grasp (literally and metaphorically). Computers and electronic technology and their abstract representations of reality can wait.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
John Dewey on the hands
John Dewey wrote the following in the Schools of Tomorrow, E.P. Dutton & Co. 1915: