Thursday, April 07, 2011

a test of wills?

Felix Adler, in his address on the value of manual training, delivered to the National Conference of Charities and Correction, Buffalo, 1888, considered the matter of will as it relates to both the children of poverty, and the sons and daughters of the intellectual elite.
"... history, geography and arithmetic are not, as a rule, interesting to young children, especially not to young children of the class with which we are now dealing. These listless minds are not easily roused to an interest in abstractions.

Secondly, it is a notorious fact that intellectual culture, pure and simple, is quite consistent with weakness of the will. A person may have very high intellectual attainments, and yet be morally deficient. I need hardly warn my reflective hearers that, when emphasizing the importance for the will of intellectual culture, I had in mind the intellectual process as applied to acts. To cultivate the intellect in its own sphere of contemplation and abstraction, apart from action may leave the will precisely as feeble as it was before."
What Felix Adler proposed for both classes was for children to actually do things in school and thereby become acquainted with physical reality, through investigation of how things actually work, and are made. Engagement in physical reality as craftsman and creator was viewed as essential by Adler and others of his time to the full development of human qualities and character. Instead of memorizing answers, as proposed by one side or another, the idea was to investigate and inquire, and test in physical reality... Not just make stuff up, or accept what had been made up by others.

This morning I see that the American government is at a crisis point, in which tea-party activists are pushing for a government shut down to make their point. It is claimed as a test of wills, one vs. the other, but things have gotten out of hand. They seem to be detached from the real everyday needs of the American people. Where were shop classes, laboratory science and the arts when we needed them most?

Make, fix and create.

1 comment:

  1. Do people who give and get "power from the outside" (money, degrees, titles) lack inner strength? If so, how did they get such a strangle hold on this land? The ultimate way to combat this is by using our own hands and mind.