Friday, January 11, 2013

Educational Tact...

Simple box alternate shapes.
Otto Salomon in pages 12, 13, and 14 of The Theory of Educational Sloyd describes what it means to teach with educational tact, and since it is difficult to describe exactly what he means (short word, complex concept), he offers a series of 6 different instances that illustrate the concept. For example, number 4 is as follows: "When we estimate the ability of the child, the possible extent of the powers it can put forth in comparison with the powers exerted on any particular occasion, and determine our own conduct at the particular moment."

I highly recommend that anyone interested in Sloyd and education reform look at these particular pages (12-14) in Salomon's Theory of Educational Sloyd, which can be found as a free download from google books.

In conclusion of this 3 page discussion of tact, Salomon offers this: "Educational tact may be roughly defined as the faculty which accurately determines for the teacher when and how he should act."

In other words you may not find tact exhibited in those American classrooms where the teacher's actions are so highly scripted so as to remove the opportunity for the teacher to control classroom activities in response to the needs of each and every individual child.

Salomon was working in an era in which teachers were given greater responsibility for the well-being and growth of their children. This is still the case in some countries, like Finland where one teacher in a news report described her close relationship to her students as being their "school mother."

We on the other hand, allow only limited relationship between teacher and student. Large class sizes and closely scripted curricula limit the range of activities, and eliminate much of the traditional teacher's creative autonomy. If you look specifically at number 4 above, what you see is the teacher determining his or her own conduct based on interpretation of the needs of the individual child. Whereas, in American schooling teachers are held responsible to the curricula, and schedule, not to the individual child's need for growth. Can you see why teaching is a profession that has been diminished and marginalized in the US? And why it is still highly regarded in places like Finland where teachers are allowed greater opportunity to address children as real people?

The shapes of lids reflect the angularity of  various designs.
Today in my wood shop, I am making lids for boxes. These particular boxes will form chapter one of my new box book based on illustrating the principles and elements of design. The variations of box designs made in chapter one will illustrate the role of shape and line in good design.You may be curious about the routed space inside the box bottom in the photo above. That will be a secret compartment, and you are the first to know.

Make, fix and create...

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