Saturday, June 08, 2013

maker's double helix...

double helix of design and technique
This is my image of how a craftsman grows through an exploration of design and technique. As you can see, it's like a double helix pattern with connecting bars. So when I ask my students to explore a simple box and begin naming its qualities, including those of design and technique, they are actually beginning to describe their own growth as box makers. Click on the image to view it in a larger size. Points along the spiral paths correspond with particular techniques and design competence moving in the direction of finer craftsmanship.

What we actually do connects us with everything else. We contend with conflicting impulses, that of attempting to set ourselves apart from others, and that of connecting more deeply with physical, social and cultural realities. Craftsmanship offers a path in which we can do both and at the very same time.

This is similar to Jerome Bruner's concept "Scaffolding." It is also related to the principles of Educational Sloyd as follows:
  • Start with the interests of the child.
  • Move from the known to the unknown
  • Move from the easy to the more difficult
  • Move from the simple to the complex
  • Move from the concrete to the abstract
There was an essay in yesterday's Arkansas Democrat Gazette by Samuel Totten, professor Emeritus from the University of Arkansas, addressing the failure of teacher education to actually achieve great or even good results. He notes:
"... there is a dire need for as much innovation as educators and others in the United States can come up with, including outstanding, cutting-edge alternative programs that are totally antithetical to the often mindless and outdated curricular programs offered by far too many current traditional, university-based teacher-education programs."
If you look at the principles of Educational Sloyd, you see that simple precept, "move from the concrete to the abstract." If teachers were simultaneously engaged in classroom teaching and an exploration of theory at levels of increasing complexity, you would witness a revolution in education. But sadly, we will not. Few in academia would ever imagine that they might learn something of value from manual arts.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. This is one reason, among others, I will be homeschooling my child when the time comes.