Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Christian take on labor...

The Perennial Plate Episode 74: God's Country from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

Last week I did a blog post on the respect for hands-on labor and learning within the traditional Jewish culture. Today, having arrived safely back in Arkansas, I'm sharing a glimpse of a Christan family farm reflecting similar values. The father notes:
"If you take a 5 year old and ask him to hold the other end of a wrench, you'll make his day. It may be at my expense, but if I can carry that then he'll benefit from it."
We've chosen to make our children unnecessary to our own lives, giving them games to play and idle amusements when they gain the greatest sense of self by doing real things of value to family and community. As we start our children back to school, let's not forget that real life is what matters. If schools were to become places where ideas and ideals were tested hands-on, and in which children were to demonstrate learning through service to family and community, we would have smarter kids of greater character, aimed toward more meaningful lives.

I am happy to be back in Arkansas after a summer of teaching adults. I find it interesting that children and adults learn in much the same way. We learn most deeply, most efficiently and to greatest lasting effect when we learn hands-on. This is a matter proven in research, but also a principle you can test in your own hands, and so the question arises, Why would we settle for a system of education for our kids that we know to not be the best we can offer?

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous11:31 AM

    I let my children heltp at any given opportunity. They like to stack firewood in the shed. Because they can see that it is not a "childrens" job, It is exactly the same stack and the same pieces of firewood that I am stacking.
    I agree that it almost never faster, but it is so nice when I tuck them in the bed at night and tell them: Thank you for the help with the firewood today. It really helped me.
    You can see on their expression, that they are very proud of being able to help.
    In addition to this, I think that it is important that they learn that a family does require an effort from every member, each to his or hers capabilities.

  2. Jonas, when children are not allowed to help, or are pushed aside from real work, their values are distorted. They may see themselves in a position of privilege and self-importance that won't be sustained when they get out into the real world. So they end up damaged in ways that hurt them, but also hurt the larger culture.

    I hope your daughter's sloyd lessons are going well. I also hope that we can get the educators all over the world to understand the value of hands-on learning. When I was in Finland in 2008, professors were concerned that Sloyd was being brushed aside as they were having to adapt European standards in universities... The University of Stockholm got rid of their work shop, and the University of Turku was expecting to lose their doctoral and masters programs in Sloyd. It is amazing how dumb some educators can be.

  3. Anonymous2:50 PM

    My daughter had to make a knife for the first lesson, next friday they will have to maeke a fork, and the teacher will provide them with something to eat. Like a Danish television programme called "kill and eat". Sadly I am at work in Nigeria at the moment, so I can't see her work yet. But I expect that they have been using a knife to whittle with (A classic start).

  4. Jonas, I would love to see photos. Making a knife and fork and then seeing how they work would be an experiment in both science and culture.

  5. Doug, I'll try to take some pictures and send them once I get home (in 4 weeks time).