Tuesday, April 09, 2013

by the numbers...

According to this week's Time magazine, ADHD diagnoses have increased 41% in the last decade. Either ADHD has become a more popular diagnosis, or what we are doing in schools is having a  profound effect. A friend was called in to talk with her son's first grade teacher because he kept falling out of his chair. And of course, the problem from the teacher's perspective is seen in the child, rather than in the chair. If teachers were to read Comenius' observations about how children learn, made in the 17th century, they would notice that children are little changed, but how we expect them to perform in schools has changed significantly... to the point that hundreds of thousands of boys and some girls must be prescribed medications to allow them to cope with education.

Can it be that if boys and girls were given learning opportunities that meant something to them, we would find them settled in their activities and alert to the lessons we offer them?

Yesterday I started two 5th grade boys at work on the lathe, turning spikes to install on the wooden shields they've begun making and decorating with their own coats of arms. The project was designed to get them to think of themselves symbolically, and to create representations of their varied interests, in addition to learning the skills to do so. When it came to standing at the lathe and carefully turning spikes, they insisted they could do it all day if I would allow them to. Engagement in crafts has the added benefit of engaging children's attention and training their attention. which can be applied to other learning opportunities.

This article, Is Immaturity Mistaken for ADHD?, points out that younger children in a class are more likely to receive the diagnosis than older children in the same class. How many children are medicated due to the immaturity of our system of education?

Woodworking can be a means to deeply engage kids in learning. ADHD? Perhaps children should be put to work attempting to do real things that engage deep interest before we decide drugs are essential to their learning.

Today in the wood shop, I'm attaching lid supports to hinged boxes and beginning preparation for a visit from members of the Oakland Art Museum.They'll be here on Saturday.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. I admire your creativity when it comes to making interesting projects for the children in the school.
    Will it be knights shields or Viking shields?
    I made a series of fairly successful swords a couple of years ago (some of them still last despite a hefty number of fights).

    Make a mortise in the hand guard plate. insert the blade through the mortise and glue it in place.
    Laminate the lower end of the blade between two strips of wood. Once dry, mount the entire sword between the centres on the lathe, and turn the handle. Finish the sword by making it pointed. You need to make the handle a little longer than the finished result, so you can cut of the end where the drive end centre has left its mark.