Tuesday, October 08, 2013

prevocational education...

Authors Frank Leavitt and Edith Brown wrote about Prevocational Education in 1915, and noted that many students don't fit the standard schooling model. They identified students who, although not lacking in intellect, were more active in nature and not easily engaged by books. They proposed that reading would be made more palatable to these students if it furthered their actual engagement in real things, to wit, "... some concrete, constructive work with a vocational content which the children genuinely enjoy and at which they will work vigorously." The authors further noted:
"Much of that which has been written about 'joy in work' has referred to some kind of laborious, manual work. It should be remembered that, for many individuals, intellectual work is laborious and that it is quite necessary to find some way of making it joyous, -- in other words, of 'motivating education.' Indeed the worker in every field of human endeavor, even the highest, needs the stimulus which comes from joy in anticipated achievement that he may despise and endure the stress and strain 'for the joy that is set before him.'"
At the time the book was written, only a small proportion of students went beyond the 6th grade, and there was a growing recognition that conventional schools had become joyless places (sound familiar?) and that those children inclined toward an active life were choosing to opt out. The book noted, as I have mentioned many times, all children love learning. On the other hand, not many like being taught. We learn best and most enthusiastically from our own efforts and by doing real things.

In 1983, Howard Gardner had noticed that children (and adults) are intelligent in a variety of ways... and that human intelligence was poorly measured if we only examined it through the lens of reading and math. The interesting thing is that when kids are doing real things, rather than the contrived exercises devised by teachers, all the senses are engaged, and all intelligences are made available to learning. Cut the pretense about learning, get the hands engaged. What we learn hands-on by doing real things is learned most thoroughly and to greatest lasting effect, regardless of your intelligence type.

Make, fix and create...

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