Saturday, May 26, 2012

farm school...

At Fellenberg's school Hofwyl, Johann Jakob Wehrli was a teacher who was largely credited with the success of the school. He was the founder of the Farm School within the Hofwyl estate. As described by Charles A Bennett in his book History of Manual and Industrial Arts up to 1870,
"Wehrli had requested Fellenberg to allow him to take three poor, neglected boys, whom he had found, into the farmhouse and go there himself and live with them. 'Here Wehrli partook of their straw beds and vegetable diet, became their fellow laborer and companion, as well as their teacher.' Thus was laid the foundation for the farm school, or agricultural school, or 'poor school,' which became the most striking feature of Fellenberg's institution.
In what became Fellenberg's "Farm and trade school" students worked throughout the summers tending crops and animals, but also learned to make their own agricultural implements, the surplus of which were sold to neighboring farms. Here in the US where schools have traditionally been off for the summer months, it seems we are missing a valuable summer learning opportunity. When we were a primarily agricultural nation, summer vacation from school was necessary so that children could help their parents on the farm. Now, too few children have that kind of learning opportunity and are left doing things that contribute far too little to their education. I can imagine "farm schools" throughout our nation in which students could enhance their normal school lessons with real hands-on learning opportunities if even only a few young teachers were inspired by Wehrli's example.
"It was Wehrli's custom to make as many connections as possible in the boys' minds between the school studies and the manual work. While at work in the fields they received some of their most valuable lessons in geography, history, natural science, and geometry as well as religion and morals. Fellenberg (a follower of Pestalozzi's principles) believed in the closest possible connection between theory and practice. He said: "Instruction should be followed by action as closely as the lightning by the thunder, and the life should be in complete harmony with the studies."
It was said of Wehrli,
"He was priest, teacher, elder brother and constant companion. Under his leadership the results were remarkable. Vagrants and beggars became industrious workers; the vicious and lawless became manly and obedient. Through labor and study and contact with a strong, sympathetic, high-minded personality these boys became valuable citizens, and many of them secured positions of trust and large responsibility."

Today in my wood shop, I am finishing jewelry boxes I started over a month ago, and attempting to clean shop. The photo above shows jewelry box drawer parts milled and ready for assembly.
In any case,

Make, fix and create...

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