Wednesday, August 31, 2011

even for the best and brightest...

When you realize that hands make us smarter, that they are the source of all human wisdom, that the hand and brain co-evolved as a behavioral system, that one without the other is diminished, that the former is not the boobie prize, but that both together are the team that leads all students toward best expression, maximum creativity, greatest intelligence, along with the maximum development of human character, you have suddenly grasped the small but significant key to the renewal of American education.

Put the hands to work in learning in EVERY class. Turn schools into learning-making laboratories. Restore the arts, music and woodshop  to their rightful place in our nation's schools.  The strategic implementation of the hands can make school more interesting to the kids, more fun and creative for teachers. Instead of having teachers' hands tied to set curriculum, set them free to share an enthusiasm for learning. Folks, this is not just about wood shop and the stupidity that erased it from most schools, but about the foolishness that left American educators thinking that the hands need not be present for the mind to win.

I am preparing for next week's classes at Clear Spring School. I have fun imagining projects and then watching the children grow. I received a bunch of saws and chisels from Lee Valley so that my middle school and high school students can begin making hand crafted wooden boxes. Dovetails will be cut. The high school students will be making easels for their art class. The first grade students will have their first chance to work with a saw and plane, making sloyd pencil sharpeners.

I will be having fun teaching others to love working with wood. The photos show two current projects in the works for CSS. I've been making an adaptation of the Hamilton style marking to use when the students cut dovetails, and I made a simple prototype musical instruments, which I call  a "frog box." The frog boxes are inspired by a musical instrument I brought back from Costa Rica in January. You rub a stick on the frog's back to make a frog sound. Put several to work and you have a chorus. Mine doesn't look much like a frog (the one I brought from Costa Rica does), but will be fun for the 4th 5th and sixth grade students to make. It is made from thin strips of scrap mahogany, and thin slices of 2x4, sawn vertical against the fence. The notched strip for rubbing is also made of scrap mahogany.

I will simply reiterate, the hands are tied in direct relationship to the growth of intellect, even for the best and brightest of our nation's kids.

Make, fix and create...

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