Friday, July 19, 2013

The senses

Comenius had put forth his argument that the senses form the core of learning:
"The ground of this business is, that sensual (sensuous) objects be rightly presented to the senses for fear that they not be received. I say, and say it again aloud, that this is the foundation of all the rest; because we can neither act nor speak wisely, unless we first rightly understand all the things which are to be done and whereof we have to speak. Now there is nothing in the understanding which was not before in the senses. And therefore to exercise the senses well about the right perceiving of the differences of things will be to lay the grounds for wisdom and all wise discourse, and all discreet actions in one's course of life, which, because it is commonly neglected in schools, and the things that are to be learned are offered to scholars without their being understood or being rightly presented to the senses, it cometh to pass that the work of teaching and learning goeth heavily onward and offereth little benefit."
Comenius was considered the father of modern education. And if you look at what other educators have offered you begin to see that Comenius, though ignored these days, has had his theories expressed more recently by others. For instance, Howard Gardner came up with his theory of multiple intelligences, which isolates the particular senses and proposes them as being expressions of intellect. And yet, we have almost completely ignored Comenius' point.

Instead of engineering classroom work to offer avenues for engagement of various forms of intellect as is proposed by followers of Howard Gardner, Comenius proposed that children become engaged in doing real things that connected them more deeply to community and culture. Making things of useful beauty, for example.

Make, fix and create...

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