Wednesday, February 06, 2013


In school, I was one of those lucky ones who did well on standardized tests. It wasn't because I knew the answers.  I would simply look at the questions and guess, and so even today, a well developed sense of intuition may often serve students better than mountains of verbally derived information.
"Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference and/or the use of reason. The word 'intuition' comes from the Latin word 'intueri' which is usually translated as 'to look inside' or 'to contemplate'." Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot justify in every case. For this reason, it has been the subject of study in psychology, as well as a topic of interest in the supernatural. The 'right brain' is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as aesthetic abilities. Some scientists have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery.
How can we help students develop intuition? Most of education these days avoids it. For Pestalozzi, the development of intuition was essential and related to his concept Anschauung, which I discussed in a variety of earlier posts like this one, Trusting Children to Learn.

Carved pens.
 In any case, much of our children's success will be based on guesswork, theirs and our own. We prepare them for a future we can neither see nor fathom. And so intuition ought to be the gift we make our most sincere attempt to deliver.

7th, 8th and 9th grade bench with Elven Rune and turned legs.
My own thoughts on intuition are closely related to my thoughts on geometry. Two points form a straight line. If you know the order in which the points were formed a vector is perceived. To understand relationship from a starting point conveys a sense of where things are going and establishes the ability to intuit "correct" answers.

This is why in Educational Sloyd teachers were instructed to start with the interests of the child, move from the known to unknown, from the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the abstract. That movement from the concrete to abstract is the domain of intuition, but the ability to intuit is not hanging out in empty space. It is built upon experience of concrete reality— As one can carefully construct during time in the wood shop.

In the Clear Spring School wood shop this morning the first, second and third grade students carved pens, and the 7th, 8th and 9th grade students worked toward finishing the bench for the office, and beginning 5 board benches for outside their classroom. As students used a Japanese Ryoba saw to cross-cut wide cedar boards, I realized that a man or woman from the Edo period could have walked in and known exactly what they were doing.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I'm curious about the pens the younger students will be carving. Please post pictures.


  2. Mario, thanks for asking. I've added photos. The seventh, 8th and ninth grade students also carved pens just because I had the materials and knives at the ready when they were in the wood shop for their class.