Saturday, July 27, 2013

developing sensory powers...

The following is from Robert Keable Row, the Eduactional Meaning of Manual Arts and Industries, 1909:
"... Manual arts and industries furnish a better means of developing the sense powers than any system of specially devised exercises. The actual manipulation of various materials, clay, sand, papers, cardboards, wood, metals, cottons, wools, silks, materials that are worked over for the sake of some end in which the tactile qualities must be appreciated, supplies all the conditions for desirable training of the sense of touch. Along with these will go training in visual perception which, however, will have special emphasis in those occupations involving color, light and shade, details of form and proportion. Another accompaniment will be the training of the muscular sense in judging weight, pressure, and other forms of force. The other intellectual sense, hearing, will be appealed to much less than touch and sight, but in working wood and metals especially there will always be more or less ear exercise which has its own significance in the operations. "
Row notes that specialized training in certain trades should go on in industrial trade schools, but the training of the senses through manual arts should take place in elementary schools.  You might have noticed in the quote above, that Row named hearing as an "intellectual sense. " In fact all senses  are intellectual, and what Howard Gardner described as multiple intelligences, is related to the training of the senses, and their natural engagement through the impulses of children and adults.

The recognition that sensory engagement is essential to learning, led some educators to devise artificial constructs to train the various  senses, but the sense of relevance is lost in doing so. Just as in asking teachers to devise artificial means to accommodate children's multiple intelligences, contriving phony means to activate the child's senses fall short in comparison to having children do real things through which all the senses and values are engaged.

The photo above is one that I took of an early photo when I was visiting at Nääs, the original from a time in which the value of woodworking in education was understood.

Make, fix and create...

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