Monday, July 22, 2013


Today is the start of the Missouri TEAM Conference of the Missouri Association for Career and Technical Education. I will be a guest speaker there on Wednesday and will conduct a work shop during a breakout session later in the morning. I am honored to have been invited, and have between this morning and Wednesday to prepare my remarks.

This morning I have a meeting at school and am also trying to clean my shop, and put things back in order following my ESSA class and a quick trip to a family reunion. It always feels good to get back in the shop. Even when things are messy, it is home to my creative spirit.

Comenius had informed early educators that the first task was to utilize the student's senses. James Sully in the Teacher's Handbook of Psychology, 1910 wrote:
After the exercise of the child in the perception of form comes the training of the sense as a whole in the knowledge of objects and their constituent qualities. The systematic development of this side of the the training of the sense gives us the object lesson...

The object lesson aims at nothing beyond the training of the observing powers themselves... The teacher who tries to train the powers of judgement and reasoning upon incomplete and inaccurate sense-perception is like the man who built his house upon the sand. The wise teacher endeavors to build up the intellectual edifice upon the rock of well-ordered sense-precepts.

In giving a lesson on copper, one teacher deals with the color and then then passes on to some such topic as the method of obtaining the ore, thus appealing to one sense only, sight. Another teacher not only lets the child look at the copper, but lets him fee it. bend it, put his tongue to it, strike it, thus appealing to the sense of touch, muscularity, taste and hearing."
At my family reunion, we were impressed to observe my grand nephew Knox as he played with his parents' iPad. It is truly amazing what the device can do. Knox, no doubt will be reading in no time. And the device is so well devised that no skill at all is necessary for its use. However, it would be mistake to think that manipulation of electronic devices designed to eliminate the need for intellect is in any way an expression of intellect. Einstein had said that his pencil and he were smarter than he was. We keep making our pencils sharper, and transferring greater intelligence to them and making intelligence less necessary in ourselves or in our own thoughts. Is that the purpose of modern education?

I am reminded of the three philosophers walking at night in contemplation of the stars. They fell headfirst into a drainage ditch, and as wonderful as the heavens are for contemplation, there is the real planet upon which our feet must rest and there are other senses beyond sight which must become fully engaged... the hands, for instance.

We need to engage children's senses in learning. That means beginning with simple technologies that require both skill and intelligent observation in the completion of their assignments.

I've been digging though old slides today to find photos of a project I'd done 13 years ago for the director of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce to send to the governor's office. I am trying to help the former chamber of commerce director to find a home for this furniture that he will no longer need in his retirement.  Two pieces of the set are shown in the photos above.

 Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Falling into the ditch while looking at the stars teaches a very valuable lesson.


    PS Beautiful desk and credenza, too.