|Banding veneer made from walnut, maple and mahogany.|
I'll remind again of Finland's schools. In Finland, children do not begin reading until they are in what would be for our children third grade. By the time their children and ours are tested in the PISA international study they surpass American readers in reading, have learned Swedish, Finnish and English languages, greater mastery of math and science while having had school reading for 25% less time.
Can we please begin to see the idiocy of the American position in this? Both Republican and Democratic administrations have maintained the view that we can test our way to better education.
So what do kids in Finland do in school for first and second grades if they aren't reading? Most Finnish primary school teachers have masters degrees in education paid for by the Finnish government. They study child development and teach children to get along with each other. They develop lessons that engage the hands, whether in woodworking or textiles or some other craft, or through science experiments, carefully building a foundation of sensory experiences upon which to build knowledge and understanding. They work with psychology and what are understood to be the laws of human development.
One of the things we are learning from neuroscience is what early educational theorists had observed first hand. Children do not all mature at the same rate. An example is recent research as children and adults watched Sesame St. Researchers with MRI looked in particular at the intraparietal sulcus, which is a small fold in the surface of the cerebral cortex, the maturity of which determines a child's ability to do math. The intraparietal sulcus also controls finger movement and sensing. If all child development was on a clock and unrelated to their developmental activities, education as it is now in America might work better than it does. On the other hand, children mature at rates that are highly personalized and not unrelated to the physical activities in which they have been encouraged and engaged. For instance dance and music are not unrelated to capacity for reading and math.
Here is what Pestalozzi observed in his day, and please ask yourself whether you see any similarity to these days in American education:
And when I ask again: What are the unmistakable consequences of thus rudely despising these laws, I cannot conceal from myself the physical atrophy, one-sidedness, warped judgement, superficiality, and presumptuous vanity that characterize the masses in this generation, are the necessary consequence of despising these laws, and of the isolated unpsychological, baseless, unorganized, unconnected teaching, which our poor race has received in our lower schools.When you give children real work to do in school (as in wood shops) they are grounded in reality, curious because they have use for what they learn, and self-confident because they have been tested by real life. And let's remind ourselves that education is not a race. Children are neither hares nor tortoises. During the Bush years the educational initiative was called "No Child Left Behind" and of course all children were left behind. Now in the current administration we have "Race for the Top"... another competitive school funding scheme likely to leave children in the lurch as it relies completely on standardized testing to get results. You can cheat in tests, but not so well in real life.
Either we lead the children through knowledge of names to that of things, or else through knowledge of things to that of names. The second method is mine.
Shown in the photo is my new miter sled, designed for cutting veneer bandings to accurate length. Works great.
Make, fix and create...