Tuesday, January 19, 2010
We don't see all at once...
I am amazed sometimes that when I demonstrate things, methods, objects, to my students at school, they don't see the whole thing at once. So today we began stitching the bindings of our books. First, of course there was a flurry of folding papers. The paper as it comes off the roll has a natural curl to it that is deceiving. Your eyes tell you it should fold one way, but the fibers in the paper and their alignment requires that it be folded the other for best results. This takes very close observation to see. This takes very careful explanation to impart, and when your mind is full of your own thoughts, it is hard to listen with complete attention. We miss way too much.
And so it is in schools. It can take the engagement of the hands to learn the lessons. With the engagement of the hands, the mind and heart follow. And of course, if you were to read this from the standpoint of academic/scientific precision of language you would stand back in critical judgment, while those who work with their hands will know exactly what I'm talking about. So it was with the teachings of Friedrich Froebel.
As a patient teacher, I bide my time. I explain things, then allow the students to get the materials in their own hands and proceed to the point where their understanding runs out, and I explain again. They get more the second time when they stand on the platform of their own experience. In the photos above, students are tearing, punching with an awl, and beginning to sew. And I will also explain that one's best work is often not one's first work. We see more as we progress, and if a craftsman's will is at work, what we do in time is lifted to the level of "art craft"... art in which deep development of character is expressed.
Can human qualities mirror the crystalline forms that Froebel handled in the Mineralogical Museum? Froebel was inspired to believe that could happen. I think of it as craftsmanship... the process through which one grows to meet full human potential.