Friday, April 01, 2011

taken by the hand

On the one hand it just feels great to make things. On the other, the hands help us to understand what it means to be a human being. And so, by neglecting to get our children hands-on engaged in their learning, we simply forget some of what is most essential in the development of their character and intellectual capacity.

I continue to welcome many new readers to the blog, directed here by the article in the New York Times.

If you are new here, I invite you to give greater consideration to your hands. They do thousands of things each day for which we give them little notice. They sense the world around us and then shape it in ways that have in most cases made it more hospitable to us, and yet we give them little credit for their contributions to human life.

Anaxagoras was the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher who first discovered nous, or mind, and he also said that "Man is the wisest of all animals because he has hands." And so you can see that the acknowledgement of the role of the hands in shaping human intelligence is not a new thing, but rather something you can explore for yourself.

Make, fix and create. Then create opportunities for others (particularly children) to do the same.


  1. Congratulations on the attention the NYT article is bringing you.

    The report, your work and your thoughtful blog reminded me of some glorious summers more than a dozen years ago when my daughters built treehouses, soapbox race cars, and play houses (with dovetails!) during weeklong camps at a San Francisco Bay area museum.

    In reading your blog, I was also excited to sense an underlying kinship between the effect of your craft and mine (bookbinding) on kids and to hear a shared conviction in the value of hands-on learning. I blog at Bookmaking With Kids, and I will be pointing my readers to your blog.

    Again, congratulations!

  2. Cathy, thank you for mentioning your blog. I have done some book making with our kids at CSS and I have a clear sense that all crafts have educational value. These days, as writing by hand, and all the other skilled and creative hand activities seem to have been abandoned and as children spend more and more time on-line engaged in non-creative activities, I feel we have placed our creative culture at risk. If, as some have said we have become a nation of idiots, the fault can be found in our failure to acknowledge the wisdom of our hands.