Saturday, December 03, 2011

The consequences...

Yesterday's blog post was about understanding the cognitive implications of craftsmanship, and of course there is much more to the subject than can be explored in a single blog post. It is a subject I return to again and again in the blog. Keep reading, and you still will not fully know that which can be best learned in your own hands.

I want to take readers in a slightly different direction this morning to explore the consequences resulting from our assumptions that hand work is not on the same level of cognitive activity as purely academic work, when in fact, purely academic work is often idly speculative, often unsupported by evidence, and may resemble the truth without being true. It creates an intellectual system in which belief and rigid adherence to dogma is regarded just as important as observable truth. It encourages the development of faulty character as we see too clearly in the financial and political cultures that have poisoned our nation...

Jean Jacques Rousseau had said,
"Put a young man in a work shop, his hands work to the development of his brain and he becomes a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman."
You will read in that quote a sense of humility along with the sense of inadvertent triumph over matters of intellect... You can find the same ideas about the relationship between science, philosophy and the work shop expressed in the longer quote from Charles H. Ham in yesterday's post.

Can you see the tragedy of what we've done? Instead of a nation of craftsman/philosophers, we've created a nation of consumers, debt ridden, obsessed with ideological positions, seeing no hope but that of salvation by others. Seen from another political perspective, our system of education has created an upper class isolated from reality, unaware of the essential values that craftsmanship can bestow on the character of a nation. A social and economic class unaware of its own potential and responsibility to move our nation toward greater things.

Have you visited the Yale campus? It is exquisite. It was financed by a wealthy philanthropist and intended to resemble Oxford. The stone masons were imported from Europe, and the stone was buried for two years to take on the right aged patina before being used to construct its glorious buildings intended to look just as old as the great educational institutions of the UK. Did you know that you can spend 4 years at Yale without ever gaining insight into the mason's art? ...without being drawn by your on curiosity to engage creatively with the beauty that surrounds you? Can you see that there is a wrongheadedness to our endeavors? Did you know that seeing the world from a more hand-centric view casts things in a whole new light?
"Let the youth once learn to take a straight shaving off a plank, or draw a fine curve without faltering, or lay a brick level in its mortar, and he has learned a multitude of other matters which no lips of man could ever teach him." --John Ruskin, "Time and Tide", 1883
But we have done none of these things.

Author of the Hand, Frank Wilson, sent me this link to an article by Ed Tenner of Yale, suggesting "that kids need laps, not apps," and pointing out the unknown potential effects of the introduction of digital devices to children. We know that screen time has all kinds of adverse effects on child development, but that does nothing to dispel the enthusiasm parents and technology companies have for selling these devices and targeting them toward underage use.

Tomorrow I will have another interview on the Inside Education. My segment will air at 5 PM Pacific Standard Time. Click the link where it says "Listen Now".

This evening I will be at Lux Weaving Studio, 21 White St. in Eureka Springs, hours 5 to 8PM.

Make, fix, and create... You will learn amazing things about materials, but also about yourself.

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