Wednesday, March 23, 2011

scaffolding day 2

Today in the CSS woodshop, first, second and third grade woodworking scholars made rock hound tools, consisting of small wooden mallets and chisels. They, as you know, have been making dinosaurs models in wood and paper-mâché, and their teacher has planned an excursion to dig crinoid fossils, for which they needed tools. The first graders, having completed their tools, couldn't wait to go exploring, and I suspect this may go on for weeks, now that their eyes have been opened to look at rocks in a whole new way. Crafts are actually the foundation of science, but have been too long ignored in American education. You can't whittle a stick without observing the structural qualities inherent within it, and all science began with the observations of those crafting beautiful and useful objects. By ignoring crafts like woodworking, our children are left less intelligent and less curious about fundamental physical reality, and yet we have some hopes that they may grow up to be engaged in science. Have we become a nation of dummies or what?

On the subject of scaffolding, you will note in yesterday's post that technology forms one of the legs of the scaffold lifting the child to a higher level of understanding. Even as simple as these tools are, as technology they support the growth of the children as they use them to investigate physical reality. You could sit at a workstation and never reach the level of interest that these children have for exploration of the school's physical environment. I had planned for the tool making project to last two weeks in the wood shop, but the students pushed to be completed in one day. They wanted to put the tools they had made to immediate use. How can one argue against educational enthusiasm.

Make, fix and create. It's catching.

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