Wednesday, August 11, 2010

today in the wood shop

This morning, I have been applying finish to a variety of small cabinets as shown above. I am also going through photos, putting them in order for captioning and to serve as a guide for writing the text.

I have had a small article approved for Make Magazine, and will send off the contract today.

Teachers of writing underestimate the value of how-to writing for engaging their students in learning to write. The blank page is daunting. But those who have most often been chosen to teach writing are those who write easily, have an aptitude for it, and too little understanding of what it means to stare at a blank page with the clock ticking on results. It can be real hard to write when you're not confident about having something worth writing about and knowing what you do write will be subject to critique.

To have real things to write about is of immeasurable worth, and follows the early progressive education maxim, "move from the concrete to the abstract." If we were not such a nation of pedagogical idiots, our schools would be filled with making, instead of just listening to lectures and writing about abstract stuff. If kids were making, they would have something of interest to write about. School is enough to drive one either to abstraction, or to make the great escape from the school walls, toward the beauty of nature and the lure of real stuff.

On another subject, my daughter Lucy has begun teaching her classes in biology and chemistry at Nsawam, Ghana. She told me that in her first class, she organized her students into parts of molecules so they could act out the drama of existence as its most fundamental level. Earlier in the year, I had met a professor Aleicia McClain, Ph.D from Norfolk State University in Virginia on a flight from XNA. Dr. McClain uses the same technique in teaching organic chemistry at the university level. Great minds often arrive at the same point either through experience or desperation. The method involves embodied cognition. When our whole bodies are engaged in learning, we understand better and remember longer. But then if you've been paying attention to your own learning, you would have known this without me every having said a word. I suspect Lucy having arrived at this technique is the result of her having been a student at Clear Spring School.

1 comment:

  1. Doug, I really enjoyed reading your blog. I just embarked upon my own hands in learning blog as part of my grad studies. I agree that the whole-body learning method enhances understanding. I too am strongly imfluenced by the "handdoc"-Frank Wilson. I would appreciate any feedback you could provide on my blog. thanks