Sunday, September 16, 2012

carefully stating the urgency of the situation...

new pulls, new boxes, Danish oil brings out the beauty of wood.
One of the things I must do in getting a publisher to work with me on a book about hands-on learning is to convince them of the urgency of the situation. So here I'm practicing my case. The overall thrust of education in the US is toward computer technology, making the learning experience virtual and manageable by IT specialists who like their "students" will log in on keyboards or iPads and manage learning. Just as one person can watch over the self-checkout at Walmart, performing the task of several regular check-out clerks, the idea is that a smaller number of check out supervisors can manage a much larger number of students in school. There are model schools financed by major investors where all is to be taught by computer games, capitalizing on the addictive effect of gaming to create student interest. While that may be an extreme, the thrust in most schools across the board is toward greater efficiency in learning as we attempt to cash in on the computer revolution. Much of the thrust is planned by corporations that see education as the next great business frontier if only control can be wrested from teachers unions and community school boards. Millions of dollars are being invested. The primary means of enforcing growth in the marketing and implementation of computers and software in American education is the standardized testing industry. All educators with any sense of honesty about what they are doing will state this fact: Standardized testing is a poor measure of what children have actually learn and a poor predictor of children's potential for success, of those things have as much to do with aspects of character as with measurable knowledge.

But the pressures to overlook how children actually grow and develop and to place even greater emphasis on standardized testing is the means through which industries can wrest education from teachers, from communities, and to make huge profits at our children's expense. The idea is that we trade virtuous education for a virtual one...

In this matter, I will ask you to refer back to yesterday's post, Make it really for real... There must be an urgency to my message because despite educator's best intentions, we in American education are being driven off a cliff. The forces of vast wealth, seeking even greater wealth are pushing us toward the brink. Children learn best when they are offered the opportunity to learn from real life. There is no educational virtue in virtual learning. Experiences crafting things of useful beauty involve depth of character and touch the heart, mind and soul of the child.

This view was reinforced by a program on NPR this morning that described lab rat mothers licking their young to build in a sense of resiliency that built greater character, confidence and intelligence. The program link is here: 'Children Succeed' With Character, Not Test Scores. A good teacher is a lot like a mother rat. He or she soothes, builds confidence, helps to overcome stress, helps to build in the kind of emotional resiliency that can assist the child through a life-time of challenges.

Readers in the Boston area should check out the current programming at the Eliot School. They have a full set of woodworking classes scheduled for kids ages 4-17 and and evening presentation, Slow Cloth and the Fabric of Society by Leonore Alaniz who links fiber arts to the slow foods, slow living community. The very best things are not those most quickly arrived at.

Today I have been milling mahogany for making fret boards for cigar box guitars. The high school students will begin cutting frets tomorrow.

The boxes above show my new design turned and reshaped pull and a fresh coat of Danish oil. If you look close you will see that I missed a spot.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug,

    I would say that your post is worthy of at least one comment! I like your way of thinking about the practicality of using your hands, as a part of human education. It is also a type of education that never ends, so long purpose can go along with it.

    Best regards,
    Hotaka, Japan