Friday, July 22, 2011

a new vision of education

If you wait around long enough and keep your mind open to the past you can see new things on the horizon like Charles H. Ham's 1880's vision of the ideal school:
“In laying the foundation of education in labor it is dignified and education is ennobled. In such a union there is honor and strength, and long life to our institutions. For the permanence of the civil compact in this country, as in other countries, depends less upon a wide diffusion of unassimilated and undigested intelligence than upon such a thorough, practical education of the masses in the arts and science as shall enable them to secure and qualify them to store up, a fair share of the aggregate produce of labor.

“If this school shall appear like a hive of industry, let the reader not be deceived. Its main purpose, intellectual development, is never lost sight of for a moment. It is founded on labor, which, being the most sacred of human functions, is the most useful of educational methods. It is a system of object-teaching—teaching through things instead of signs of things. It is the embodiment of Bacon’s aphorism—“Education is the cultivation of a just and legitimate familiarity betwixt the mind and things.” The students draw pictures of things, and then fashion them into things at the forge, the bench, and the turning-lathe; not mainly that they may enter machine-shops, and with greater facility make similar things, but that they may become stronger intellectually and morally; that they may attain a wider range of mental vision, a more varied expression and be better able to solve the problems of life when they shall enter upon the stage of practical activity.”
 Today, I continue making small boxes. I am ready to hinge and assemble. I will also be preparing materials for my upcoming ESSA class on Creative Box Making.

My copy of Make Magazine containing my article on spoon carving knives arrived in today's mail. Look for it in your local news stand or book store. It is full of interesting and inventive things you can make and making something with your hands will make your life far more interesting than it would be if sitting on your useless paws as you watch television.

Make, fix and create.

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