Sunday, February 10, 2013

experiential intuition...

It's proven that those things that are learned hands-on are learned more easily and to greater lasting effect than those things that have been simply learned though lecture or through books. In German they have two terms for the two different kinds of knowledge, kenntniss, and wissenschaft, with the latter term applied to books, lectures and second-hand learning.

And so why would this be? The answer I suggest is simple and falls in line with earlier progressive educators like Pestalozzi, Froebel, Cygnaeus, Salomon and Dewey. Learning through all the senses simultaneously, in close emulation of what one experiences in real life,  creates a matrix of sensory impressions, that while not so easily sorted out in the exact moment of learning, establishes a sense of reality about what one learns, making it more easily catalogued as an experience, and thus more easily accessible in long term memory, and thus forming a foundation for the type of intuition referred to by Einstein in an earlier post, Teaching Intuition.

The following is my quote at the beginning of chapter one of Matt Crawford's book, Shop Class as Soulcraft:
“In schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged.”
You may have actually learned a bit yourself, either as teacher or student about how schools can alienate youth, presenting to them materials which have no relevance to their own lives, and that are to be as quickly forgotten as painfully learned. But when one learns by actual experience while flooded with sensory impressions of what one learns, boredom and alienation from school and learning are not a matter for concern.

One of the ways you can stop boredom in its tracks is the school wood shop. Making things engages all the senses and has the power to establish relevance for all the rest that we would like for children to learn.

The Marc Adams School of woodworking sold out all spaces in my June 10-14 class, Simply Beautiful Boxes, so we've added another week of box making class from May 28-June 2. Enrollment for this class will also be limited, and there are already a number of students signed up. The school website is not yet updated to allow students to enroll online, but if you are interested in learning box-making from me, at the finest woodworking facility in the US, keep check on next week or email Paula to get details on enrollment. Ask for box making and tell Paula that Doug Stowe suggested you sign up now before this class like the last gets sold out.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous8:44 AM

    An old woodturner by the name of Harry Nohr used to say to my fourth grade class when we'd visit. "Your teachers teach you to have smart minds, but you've got stupid hands."

  2. Well said, anonymous!