Educational Sloyd was intended to foster a sense of the dignity of all labor, a sense of the worth of each of those who make a contribution to the well-being of others and contribute to society... even those who work with skilled hands instead of through the manipulations of information and the economy. It is too bad that educational sloyd fell out of favor in the early part of the last century. Without hands-on learning, we have an economy dominated by a whole generation of leaders in nearly every industry who are completely out of touch. Banking and insurance are the worst. Matti Bergström, a professor and neurophysiologist from Finland, said the following which I repeat for your reading pleasure:
The density of nerve endings in our fingertips is enormous. Their discrimination is almost as good as that of our eyes. If we don't use our fingers, if in childhood and youth we become "finger-blind " this rich network of nerves is impoverished-which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual's all-around development. Such damage may be likened to blindness itself. Perhaps worse, while a blind person may simply not be able to find this or that object, the finger-blind cannot understand its inner meaning and value.The way that Goldman Sachs pushed AIG off the cliff, necessitating a huge rescue of AIG by the American Taxpayer is described today in the New York Times. There are millions of people in the US who would love to be working and earning a paycheck, while the CEOs just keep on smiling as though nothing happened. At some point in the past we decided that our national interests were better represented by trading on Wall Street than by the productivity of the American worker. When you extract our most highly educated students from any comprehension of the contributions of skilled labor, you virtually cut our economy off at the knees. At one point in American history, a man or woman of means would imagine his or her greatest potential being met by putting others to work in meaningful occupations. But extract individuals from the lessons of skilled creativity, and the full extent of their imagination is limited to finding new means to employ their dollars in schemes of dollar growth. These best and brightest invented such things as "credit default swaps," derivatives and trading schemes that led to near financial collapse.
If we neglect to develop and train our children's fingers and the creative form building capacity of their hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers.
Those who shaped our age-old traditions always understood this. But today, Western civilization, an information-obsessed society that over values science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten it all. We are "values-damaged."
The philosophy of our upbringing is science-centered, and our schools are programmed toward that end.... These schools have no time for the creative potential of the nimble fingers and hand, and that arrests the all-round development of our children and of the whole community.
On the subject of manufacturing in the US, check out Charles Hugh Smith on the future of manufacturing. Are we moving to a new model in which individual craftsmen, or very small groups of craftsmen meet demands for limited manufacturing of goods marketed through the world wide web? Check out my work on etsy.com