Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Documentary film

I had a busy day in the wood shop with morning guests filming a documentary on the artists of Eureka Springs. I had to explain first off, that I'm really not an artist, but a woodworker and craftsman, and that there is a difference. There is no higher calling than to make things that are useful, even if they do happen to turn out beautiful as well. Beauty we leave to the eye and judgment of the beholder.

Today, I am nearly finished making my small spice cabinets, and have made significant progress in making shaker wall cabinets in white oak and cherry.

So what does a new school for the 21st century look like? Let's look back but skip the 20th when schools were driven toward efficiency and cheap production. Mass manufacturing was the model. Can we manufacture minds just as we would a model T Ford? Here I mean no offense to Henry Ford. He was widely quoted as saying, "History is bunk." But what he meant was that the teaching of history, the way it was taught, was bunk, but then, just as today, there were those who would rather twist words to score points than to listen and facilitate meaningful change. Ford began collecting things, as his belief was that things told our story more clearly than words, and his huge collection of old stuff became the curated collection of the Henry Ford Museum where I attended my conference this last weekend during the Maker Faire. Henry Ford also started a school in which children might become entrepreneurs in his image. that school became the inspiration for the Henry Ford Academy.

Every teacher in America knows that things today are messed up. We can hear the thunking in the antiquated 4-banger. Rods and pistons are loose. We will have to look back to educational sloyd in the 19th to get a better view of what schools can become in the 21st century.

What if schools were designed for children instead of for the convenience, neatness and efficiency of instruction. What if we started out with the assumption that learning is messy? What if we knew that kids needed the opportunity to explore materials and tools and needed to be trusted to learn trial-and-error by their own mistakes. What if teachers were allowed the discretion to follow children's interests and call forth their intrinsic motivation in the classroom? The school where that would happen would be very much like the Clear Springs School where we already have a model for what schools must become. I don't really have to make anything up and it is OK to point.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:49 AM

    Kids will learn in the kind of school you have at Clear Spring. And if the process is messy, that might be a bonus, just like a craft item being beautiful is a bonus.