Friday, October 11, 2013

The co-education of brain and hand...

The writings of Calvin Woodward continue to be an inspiration to my thoughts. I have so many other things to concentrate on other than the blog at the moment, so I will simply share this from "The Manual Training School," 1886:
"It was the fashion with certain fanatics once, and it is still an article in the creed of some, that we must mortify and despise this fleshly nature. This glorious frame, with all its wondrous mechanism, must be put to shame; the hand must lose its cunning, the body its strength and vigor, the eye its lustre, that the spirit alone may triumph. To us these notions seem but the relic of a barbarous age, and yet they have burned themselves deep into our social constitution.

Our care must be, while developing and strengthening our mental faculties, and imparting some useful information, to cultivate the hands, and arms and eyes, to give them strength, flexibility, dexterity, precision, and habits of prompt obedience to the will. These results come only from early training; while the body is growing and the mind is maturing, the joints are flexible and the muscles are tractable, the eye unprejudiced, and the mechanical judgement in the most teachable condition."
Those who look at education over a time line will notice that the pendulum swings from one side to the other. These days, religious fanaticism with regard to the human body has faded, but the body and the hands, are still regarded by some as an educational inconvenience. Kids squirm, kids fiddle about, kids need to use facilities, and need to be let out for recess and to play. Those things disrupt plans for senseless but steady inculcation of testable information. Educators try to contend with the body. How can we make kids sit still long enough to learn? Drugs, perhaps? Could we put children in cages like we do chickens and trim their beaks so they don't peck themselves to death?

It is time to refresh our understanding that kids' hands are the most valuable of all educational resources. The hands are the way that children engage the world and learn from it in the most direct manner. What we learn hands-on is learned most efficiently, most thoroughly and to greatest lasting effect. There is no better way to engage children in learning than by making beautiful and useful things.

Make, fix and create...

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