Sunday, March 24, 2013

the ideal school...

As you can see I'm ready to apply finish to the bracelet boxes. They offer contrast in a variety of ways. Perhaps most immediately apparent is the shape. The lids have either curved or angled shapes that contrast with the rectilinear bases.

Even before the Danish oil finish is applied you'll notice color. The lids contrast with the color of wood used in the base, and two of the lids have been blackened through a chemical process called ebonizing.

You may then notice texture. Some lids are smooth. Some have the rough sawn texture of the wood that resulted first from the saw and then from weathering as the wood dried in stacks out of doors. Then you may notice more subtle contrasts in the figure and grain. These natural marks contrast with the smooth crafted surfaces achieved in the rest of the box. Then you'll also notice the "artificial" texture which I created using a sanding tool to make almost random marks on two of the lids.

These first impressions are intended to draw the viewer into closer relationship to the work. Pick a box up and you will see other evidence of contrast. On some, contrasting wood keys are used to give  greater strength to the mitered corners of the box. On others, as you open the box you will see contrasting wood splines that secure the mitered joints. These diverse attributes of shape, color and texture are intended to illustrate the rich depth that the use of contrast brings to a craftsman's work.

Yesterday I mentioned Bastian's computer game re-creating the Clear Spring High School building and grounds as the backdrop for alien battles. We think of learning as something that is imposed and composed outside the child by teachers and administrations, and yet, learning, the process as it applies to each child is innate. They may not be always engaged in learning what we want them to learn.  In fact, we know that these days they learn too soon about too many things we would never want our children to have to consider, ever, as they are the failings of our human culture. The list of human atrocities is long. But even if our world were nearly an ideal place we know that our children, even as old as 25 may not have developed the frontal lobe maturity to have the best judgement as to their own needs and actions.

But, learning is what they do, and what they do best. Left to their own devices, children learn, and they learn more deeply and to greatest lasting effect when they are allowed and encouraged to immerse themselves deeply in learning. So how can we establish schools in which children are allowed to follow their most natural inclinations to learn and learn at greatest depth? And yet be given inspiration, guidance and trust?

How would we structure schooling to take advantage of our capacities to enter what an athlete might call the "zone" of learning, or that Csikszentmihalyi might call the "flow?"

The first step is restructure schooling to allow children to become engaged in doing real things. Art, music, laboratory science, wood shop, stone masonry, and much more. As long as schools only present abstract learning, how can be expect our children to not be bored, disruptive and disengaged?

Not surprisingly others and I have written about this before.

Colors texture and shapes create contrast
The bracelet boxes now have their first coat of Danish oil applied as you can see at left.

make, fix and create...

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