Friday, February 25, 2011

The way to the brain

"The way to the brain, goes through the hand" was an expression common among Englishmen at Nääs one hundred and ten years ago according to Hans Thorbjörnsson, historian of the famous school for Sloyd teschers near Gothenburg, Sweden. I asked Hans to research the origins of the quote and he found that it was widely used and could not be attributed to a single man. I began trying to find that same expression on the internet to discover its actual origins, and found an almost identical expression stated as a principle of Montesorri schools. It is quoted in the prospectus of a new charter school being proposed in the Bronx, NYC.
“The way to the brain is through the hands.” This is borne out by the research of Piaget, which indicates that a child must interact with real objects, have time to investigate and test his ideas, and discuss his ideas with others in order to build satisfactory mental constructs. The Montessori approach uses a wide range of specially designed concrete materials that represent abstract concepts, particularly in math and language arts. This physical modeling fosters the internalization of accurate mental representations of these operations.
Maria Montessori founded her first school in 1907 and the American Montessori society was founded in 1960. You will note that use of that expression in relation to Sloyd came years before Maria Montessori's first school, and long before she became famous as an educator. So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Can it be that anyone looking at oneself, without the delusions imposed by academic predispositions might observe and state the nearly exact same thing? Or perhaps, Maria Montessori had drawn upon a wide range of sources in formulating her theories and methods, as we each do today.

Here are two more direct quotes from Maria Montessori telling us that she had a clear grasp. “The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence,” and “The human hand allows the mind to reveal itself.” You can find these and a lot more here.

And so the question arises, can you examine your own learning experience and note the value of your hands in investigating and understanding material and cultural reality? I hope so. And then I also hope you will feel your way clear to do something about it. DIY, TIY

Make, fix and create.

In the meantime, the Providence, R.I. school board voted to send termination notices to every teacher in its many schools. No, it is not a joke. With the Republican conservatives in power and their "starve the beast" notions from the Reagan era that "no tax is a good tax," even if it supports education and fire protection, raising taxes to fix budgetary problems is not considered as a reasonable option. The same ideological infection is sweeping our nation, from Wisconsin south. Is it fair to say that we have become a nation of idiots? Heartless ones at that.

5 comments:

Andrea Coventry said...

This was really interesting! Thanks for posting it! I linked to your post from my website, www.montessoriwriter.com

Anonymous said...

The mess that is being made of the budget is going to get uglier, I'm afraid. Teachers and other public employees are the scapegoats of the moment, while the people who steal the really large amounts are getting off scot free.

Mario

Doug Stowe said...

"the people who steal the really large amounts are getting off scot free."

that seems to be the way it always works.

Anonymous said...

Another way I've heard it phrased is that if you rob the bank you go to jail, but if you steal the bank, you become a millionaire.

Mario

Anonymous said...

Montessori did indeed draw from many sources,
particularly Itard and Seguin who were both pioneers in educating the mentally challenged through the use of manipulative materials.