Thursday, February 28, 2013


Galleons. Each is unique.
 I have a day planned of writing, to get chapter two organized, written and off to my editor for review. It is a cold morning, one in which it would be nice to curl in bed with a good book, but real life for most of us just doesn't work out that way. We have issues. First there's the ever present need for money. We don't get it for sitting around all day, and it's spent whether we do anything or not. Then there's the matter of self-esteem. Most human beings thrive on being important in someone else's life. We have longings that urge us to serve others in some way, to keep earning and re-earning our sense of self.

Then folks came along in American education and devised a system in which students sit around all day, in which teachers are to do most of the work (and be constantly measured for it), and in which pretense of self-esteem is offered but with the real stuff that must be earned nowhere in sight. You can call it "do nothing learning" if you like.

But the truth is that we don't learn very well that way. We learn best when our ideas are drawn from and measured against real life. The idea of modern American education, where a teacher stands at the head of the class and spews out information that is ungrounded in student experience is psychologically unhinged from how students actually learn.

Forgive me, I keep repeating myself. The message is simple. In learning we move from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex,  and from the concrete to the abstract, and we do best when we create lessons starting from the interests of the child. The best way to do this  is through the strategic engagement of the hands. We learn most efficiently and to greatest lasting effect when our hands are engaged in learning.

The photos above are from yesterday's first, second and third grades class. The designs are by students. Each is unique, involving decisions that students made themselves. The wood shop is a surprisingly verbal environment as students explain in detail what they need next.

At 4 PM today the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students at Clear Spring School will present the bench they made at the APT meeting, and describe the manner in which it was designed and made. They are very proud of it and what they've done, and making a presentation to parents and teachers was their idea.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment