Finland, too, this year got a small slap in the face. Instead of leading the world in nearly all subjects as has been in the past, Finland's scores dropped to 5th and 6th in reading and math, while Shanghai, China leads the world as the top scoring economy (not nation). Of course, the whole thing would be described by Bergström as the white game in which one generation tries to enforce its standards, methods, values and thoughts upon another instead of allowing them to emerge through engagement in the real world. Can it be that when children do poorly in school that they, for various reasons are beginning to reject the values and methods that the school represents?
The Finnish brain researcher, Matti Bergström "concentrates on the child’s inner life and its – as we see it – chaotic ’possibility space’. Professor Bergström maintains that it is not only a question of ’white games.' The white games are our pedagogical efforts trying to bring up children in our own image. But there must also be room for the ’black games’ where children test themselves and the world around them. They must be given space. At a recent conference, Matti Bergström posed the question: do children need a knowledge lift? His answer was no, they need a chaos lift. We must allow children space and opportunity for the black games which are created in the unorganized and unsupervised meeting with other children.
"Very briefly, Matti Bergström’s reasoning can be boiled down to this: The core of culture is art. The core of art is creativity. The core of creativity is possibility. The core of possibility is play. The core of play is chaos. Therefore all culture is based on chaos. More than ever before do we wish to encourage each individual’s creativity and culture-creating ability. The skills of the agrarian and industrial society have long since become obsolete."
I will again repeat the basic premises of Educational Sloyd. As absurrd as this might sound, modern educators could learn a few things from progressive education from the 19th century.
- Start with the interests of the child.
- Move from the known to the unknown.
- Move from the easy to the more difficult.
- Move from the simple to the more complex.
- Use the concrete to illustrate the abstract.
Recent research about how art makes you smart was conducted at our own Crystal Bridges Museum in Northwest Arkansas and described in the New York Times. Art Makes You Smart.
Make, fix and create...