Monday, December 09, 2013

craftsmanship and the moral development of children...

In Kindergarten, the children were to build with blocks, but not knock down. When changing forms they were to move and manipulate one form into another without exercising their destructive impulses. The purpose was to give children the opportunity to develop their own creativity, not their destructive force. The following is from the Paradise of Childhood written by Edward Weibe and published by Milton Bradley, concerning gift number 7, a series of flat tablets with which the child could create patterns of life, knowledge and beauty.
"Although to some grown persons it may appear as if the images produced do not bear much resemblance to what they are intended to represent, it should be remembered that in most case, the children themselves have given the names to the representations. Instructive conversations should also prevent this drawing with planes as it were, from being a mere mechanical pastime; the entertaining, living word must infuse soul into the activity of the had and its creations each representation, then, will speak to the child and each object in the world of nature and art will have a story to tell to the child in a language for which he will be well prepared.

"We need not indicate how these conversations should be carried on, or what they should contain. Who would not think in connection with the pigeon-house, of the beautiful white birds themselves, and the nest they build; the white eggs they lay, the tender young pigeons coming form them, and the care with which the old ones treat the young one, until they are able to take care of themselves? An application of these relations to those between parents and children, and, perhaps those between God and man, who, as His children enjoy His kindness and love every moment of their lives, may be made, according to circumstances--all depending on the development of the children. However, care should always be taken not to present to them, what might be called abstract morals which the young mind is unable to grasp, and which, if thus forced upon it cannot fail to be injurious to moral development. The aim of all education should be love of the good, beautiful, noble and sublime; but nothing is more apt to kill this very love, ere it is born, than the monotony of dry dull preaching of morals to young children. Words not so much as deeds--actual experiences in the life of the child, are its most natural teachers in this important branch of education."
People tend to think that morality is a thing best taught by preaching at kids and by telling them what to do rather than by trusting the inherent nature of children to actively lead them to an understanding of their relationships and responsibilities to family and community. Kindergarten teachers were thus warned not to use their positions of power to preach at kids. Kindergarten and craftsmanship have this in common. When we are given creative tools, we learn of our creative responsibilities. We come to an understanding of ourselves as creative force. That force is measured directly by our abilities to create useful beauty in service to family and community. Kindergarten and the Educational Sloyd wood shop were intended as places in which children would develop moral character, intelligence and a sense of beauty.

I have been going through my second round of edits for my new book and there will likely be a third as we work to find mistakes and clarify text.  School is out today because of the weekend snow storm that left road icebound and dangerous. Rural roads in particular are hazardous in our mountainous terrain.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Re: the block tablet creations not resembling what they represent:

  2. Jim, I like that. It leaves something to the imagination. Even better perhaps would be to leave the names off and leave even more to the imagination.