Wednesday, July 25, 2012

in a nutshell...

Ralph is making his small cabinet with dowels.
I have the third day of my ESSA small cabinet making class this morning, so this will necessarily be brief and hopefully concise.

Here in the US in the 60's and 70's we decided to divide high school education into two parallel forms, either preparing students for the trades or college prep. The idea was that it was no use teaching kids what they needed for college if they weren't going there, and it was no use teaching kids preparation for the trades if they were going on to bigger and better things. Forgotten in all that was that there is no better means to develop character and intellect than through the use of the hands. But few cared. We were becoming less of a manufacturing nation, racing head first into an "information age."

So we became less wise, (Anaxagoras had said we were wise because we have hands), and the hands themselves became impediments to the distribution of of knowledge, which could be done most efficiently through the eye by books, and through the ears by formal lecture. And those who were ill prepared to learn efficiently by those two means were generally abandoned, denigrated and marginalized by American education as being "slow learners."

The truth is that all children develop physically, emotional and intellectually at different rates. We know that some children may walk at 7 months, and some not until 12 months or later, but that is not predictive of their future intellectual development. But when it comes to reading, if children are not reading in Kindergarten in the US, we have panic attacks about their future intellectual competence. In Finland, where Sloyd is compulsory for all students, they begin reading at age 8 instead of 5 and far surpass American students at age 15 in 25 percent less time while enjoying more recess than any other children in Europe, learning 3 languages and also beating American children by far in science and math.

At this point, we have the institution of American education so screwed up, it calls for a revolution. All the mainstream proposals to fix things are in the wrong direction. The trades have been denigrated and marginalized as the realm of dummies, as we have been taught to overlook the huge intellectual resources contained within the relationship between hand and mind.

Too many of those who are given the advantages of higher education are distorted in view, and lacking in the forms of character that would lead them to successful lives that contribute at full capacity to the culture of humanity.

If you wonder for a few minutes one day why we have become such a selfish nation, how we have become so out of touch from things, and so unfulfilled in our daily lives, please consider how the hands even though they have  been marginalized can put us back in touch.
Kent is making his small cabinet with wedged tenons

The photos above and at left are from our third day of making small cabinets at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous9:21 AM


    A quality rant tho.

    Agree totally.

    (from a neighboring country to the north)

  2. A rant "is typically an enthusiastic speech or talk or lecture on an idea, a person or an institution." Is that necessarily a bad thing?

    I wasn't trying to offer a rant, but to simply address briefly and concisely, a very complicated subject.