Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the hand's path forward...

This morning, I am working in my own shop for a bit, and will have middle school students in the afternoon. When I am at work in my shop, some of the work is routine, allowing my mind to wander, and as you might guess much of what I think about is the hands.

We have developed a model for education in the US in which teachers stand at the front of the class and deliver as much information as they can in the hopes that enough of it will stick that their class as a whole will test well enough to justify what they are paid. It is certainly not quite that bad in elementary schools, where the pressures on student achievement are not so grave. But as students advance through school, the pressures increase and the fun diminishes. Parents have high expectations. Administrators and teachers have high hopes, but students themselves, are left wondering, "What in the world am I doing here?" and "Why is this so boring and so little fun?" And the saddest question of all, "What's in it for me?"

The hands offer a path forward. Put the hands in use, with each child actually doing interesting things, using real tools and education becomes real to each child.  The use of the hands engages all the senses, sight, sound, smell. It engages all the child's innate capacities and interests. If we put children of any age in classrooms, proceed to address their minds while ignoring their bodies, we create a situation that fails to engage.

I visited our CSS high school classroom yesterday afternoon to take a photo of my student's finished dovetailed box. My visit was after time for school to be let out. The students were playing a game of Bingo using facts from their current course. Not one child was willing to leave until the game was complete. Each was disappointed that they day's lessons were over. There was no rush to leave class. There are things that can be done to make learning more engaging, more successful and more fun. but you've got to:

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If only all classrooms were like that.

Mario