On the other hand, when we say something has been learned "hands-on", we know that all the senses have been engaged. And so, hands-on learning is not just about the hands, but about the whole person, the whole child, first person, most deeply engaged in the process of education. We call ourselves men, (or women), members of mankind, and the word man, and men is inseparably entwined in the Latin phrase, mens et manus mind and hand. We would not be men or women in the deepest and most elegant sense of the term without hands to complete our sensory engagement with learning, life and reality.
Dr. Peggy Drexler, in an article in Psychology Today,The Key to Raising Confident Kids? Stop Complimenting Them! suggests that we've been doing damage to our children by offering too many false compliments. The answer of course is to allow them to do real things, engaging all the senses, at which they can fail and succeed and gain a real sense of self-accomplishment and hard earned self-esteem rather than false meaningless compliments which come second hand. Dr. Drexler notes:
We see how praising kids sets them up for a world that's almost never as generous. For kids who've spent their lives being celebrated for, say, tying their own shoes, failure can be devastating. In a recent New York magazine article, 27-year-old Lael Goodman said, "The worst thing is that I've always gotten self-worth from performance, especially good grades. But now that I can't get a job, I feel worthless." And this guy's an adult; it's even worse for an actual child. What's more, by focusing too much on how we can build our kids' self-esteem and confidence, we're overlooking teaching them what real achievement means -- and depriving them of knowing what it's like to feel the satisfaction of setting a high goal, working hard, and achieving it. When we place more emphasis on the reward than the process of learning or doing -- whether it's an algebra problem or hitting a fly ball -- kids inevitably focus more on the reward. They stop learning how to spell because it's a benchmark for learning (and necessary); they learn it for the trophy and ice cream party that follows.When kids work with real materials, the materials don't lie, or make things up to reinforce the child's self esteem. When a kid cuts wood and tries to fit parts together, there are no compliments that will adjust the wood for a poor fit. There is an honesty in working with the hands for which there is no substitute.
Here in the US, the argument about the status of our schools continues. It appears that the inclination to blame teachers is winning the day. But poverty, and the amount of time children live in poverty is the clear culprit in our failure relative to high performing countries in the PISA testing. This article, The emotional appeal for blaming teachers, helps describe the situation.
Make, fix and create...