Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A statement of pedagogy...

Comenius, the father of modern pedagogy recognized the child's need for complete sensory engagement in learning, but the specific role of the hands as an instrument of learning has never been so clearly stated (to my knowledge) as it is here in this blog. We all can observe on our own, without statistics, and even without scientific instruments to precisely measure, that what we learn hands-on is learned more deeply, more enthusiastically, and to greatest lasting effect. And yet, we fail to make use of that broadly agreed understanding in the design of our children's education. There lies the stupidity and neglect inherent in American education.

I hope to change a few things in part through a statement offering clarity. We'll call it "the strategic engagement of the hands".

According to an article in the New York Times, teaching Algebra is a dumb thing to do because it is too difficult for too many kids. Is Algebra Necessary? It might be that more kids would do better at Algebra in the first place if it were made hands-on. In fact research has shown that students have a profound level of improvement if they are taught to gesture in their understanding of algebraic functions. Thanks, John for the link. It seems that there are those who would choose to make education less demanding, whereas it could be made even more demanding if we were to first make it relevant to what children would like to accomplish. The following comment was posted to CNN in a discussion of this matter.
Liz: As much as I disliked math most of my youth it is a necessary subject. The biggest problem is teachers just teach right out of a book without actually understanding themselves in many cases the actual applications where the subject is relevant. Combining real world uses with the math the students learn is far more beneficial then doing away with the subject. I know when I changed colleges and the math classes were taught in a way that was relevant to my career path as a computer programmer it actually started to click. Schools traditionally just teach it out of a book with some crap word problems about trains. In this day and age they need to get more visual and more indepth to how important the math is. July 31, 2012 at 10:44 pm
Liz makes sense to me, but what she says is common sense and unlikely to be taken seriously inAmerican education.

Richard Bazeley, shop teacher from down under, has been showing me his stuff in cutting mitered parts for small boxes using a miter box. I'm away from home at the moment, but will show a more complete series of photos when I retun to Arkansas.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I had a terrible time with math throughout my schooling. I could not memorize the multiplication tables so came up with my own roundabout way of getting to the answer multiplying by ten and subtracting. 7x7=?. 7x10=70-21=49. Algebra was much worse. No one could tell me what it was for. Even with tutoring as an adult it still makes no sense to me and has limited me to the point it has kept me out of classes at a community college. It's OK to delte this.

  2. Teaching and learning math and algebra are significantly easier if done hands-on. Mt daughter learned Algebra in 6th grade at Clear Spring School using sticks. Many teachers have gone through the motions of teaching math while many students like yourself have been allowed to fall through the cracks. I was taught Algebra without ever learning that it could be useful for something. Having a clear use makes it interesting, relevant and much more easily learned. So I advise not giving up on Algebra, but teaching it in a manner that gives it relevance and use. Building a boat, for example.