My second presentation was on box making. It you take the acronym, STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, and add an A for the arts, you get STEAM. Add an R for "reflection" and you get STREAM.
My box making presentation was on STREAM. The conference was not well attended, but my classroom for the box making presentation was packed, and attentive. I started with observation and reflection. Students must be invited to think. I centered the lessons on design drawing the arts into the understanding of box making and offered the examination of real boxes which I had brought with me from Arkansas, so that teachers could see clearly the relationship between the theory of educational Sloyd and what they were doing in my own class. A classroom setting is not the best place for individualized learning. And naturally not everyone in the class was able to process the information I presented in the same way. When you understand that, you become watchful for student response or lack of response as feedback. the most interesting thing I've learned about educational Sloyd is that its theories of how we learn apply to everything we as teachers have the responsibility to help our students learn. Just in case any of my teachers from yesterday's presentation are reading today, I'll repeat.
- Start with the interests of the child.
- Move gradually 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 (and back and forth).
- Personalize instruction to maximize learning
One of my teachers during the box making presentation noted that his students are required to write about what they've done in class. That can be a point of reflection. But the reflective process is inherent in all learning actions. When I asked my teachers to each select one of my sample boxes and describe what it was that led them to pick it up, that too, was reflection. When we invite students to become engaged as individuals in learning we invite their personal reflection.
Today, we celebrate the ground breaking for a new studio at ESSA, and this evening, I'll make a short presentation of the powerline proposed for Northwest Arkansas and our efforts to stop it. The boxes above illustrate the concept of "effective surprise," a design principle I shared with my teachers in yesterday's box making class. Open a box and find either wedding bands or a pair of diamond earrings? Surprise.
Make, fix and create...