Monday, January 31, 2011

The Great Didactic of Comenius

These days, the education of our children is driven by statistics and standardized testing rather than by observation of our children and their actual learning needs. But for interesting reading we can go back to John Amos Comenius, the father of modern pedagogy. The Great Didactic, edited by M.W. Keatinge can be found on Google books, Here. If you were to go to any modern education university, you would learn far more about testing than about the arts and Comenius' proposed use of the arts in education.

Today in the Clear Spring wood shop, the upper primary students will be finishing their treasure boxes, and the high school students will be turning wooden bowls. We are expecting a major winter storm beginning later in the day, so I have errands to run, firewood to put in place, and a host of additional duties in addition to classes. Please take the poll at right. Give some thought as to how you best learn. Are we different from our children in how we learn? Do you think, based on how you, yourself may learn that our present schools are what our children most need?

Comenious said the following about schools:
Artisans do not detain their apprentices with theories, but set them to do practical work at an early stage; thus they learn to forge by forging, to carve by carving, to paint by painting, and to dance by dancing. In schools, therefore, let the students learn to write by writing, to talk by talking, to sing by singing, and to reason by reasoning. In this way schools will become workshops humming with work, and students whose efforts prove successful will experience the truth of the proverb; "We give form to ourselves and to our materials at the same time."
In other words, we have our schools backwards. The arts and crafts should come first and be central to our educational model. And as Chris notes in the comment below, fat chance of that happening anytime soon. Make, fix and create. Working with you in your work shop may be the only chance your children and grandchildren ever have to discover the hands-on creation of self.

1 comment:

  1. Doug-

    I agree that our public schools are light years away from having the teacher as the artisan and the student as apprentice. Many teachers never served as apprentices. Without this valuable learning experience I feel it's necessary that teachers think of themselves as their students' apprentices, and learn from them. A very wise teacher once told me that "children will show you the way." But I wonder if we could live up to the wisdom of Comenius in our modern day society.

    Good luck to your students on their projects. Just to let you know, I have my first "sit down" with an administrator this week about my woodworking program. I will let you know how it goes.