Wednesday, May 02, 2012

the uncommon hand...

There is an article in this month's National Geographic called "the common hand" which shows the skeleton hands of diverse creatures, from bats, to frogs to creatures of the sea. And yet it calls to mind the wonders of our own hands.
"The hand is where the mind meets the world. We humans use our hands to build fires and sew quilts, to steer airplanes, to write, dig, remove tumors, to pull a rabbit out of a hat. The human brain, with its open-ended creativity, may be the thing that makes our species unique. But without hands, all the grand ideas we concoct would come to nothing but a very long to-do list."
There is actually much more to say about the hand/brain system than that.

Scientists, working from an analytical framework, take things apart and view them as components, classifying them according to similarities and differences, thus often missing essential aspects which might be captured from a more holistic view. Thus the hand and mind are seen as separate things, not an integral system for learning and creativity.

Pestalozzi used the German term Anschauung to describe an education less dependent on words and more embracing of relationship between things. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was another German philosopher who used the term Anschauung. He believed that botanists of his time were so obsessed with the analytical processes of classifying plants, that they were missing important relational aspects between species, matters of co-dependence and symbiosis.

The same thing happens in education, and has been called the silo effect... Teachers are expected to act and teach as though their disciplines are separate from the full breadth of human experience. No wonder students become bored, disinterested and disruptive.

You will note that the naming and classifying of things is a left-brained operation. Early educators like Pestalozzi saw danger in creating "one-sided" students, lacking in essential non-verbal, non-quantifiable components for their success.

Today was a big day at the Clear Spring School and in my home wood shop. SawStop saws were delivered.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:46 AM

    I'd never heard of the silo effect, but it fits. Our local schools are being torn apart by state mandates, testing and parents who don't get their kids to school, not to mention poverty. Congratulations on the new saws, too.