|Kindergarten Cottage, Philadelphia 1876|
Yesterday at the Silver Tea, an old friend thanked me for the ideas put forth in the Wisdom of the Hands. She's become a grandmother, and having been made aware of how the hands affect the brain, that the intelligence of the hands requires nourishment, she has also been made aware of the gift that she can give to her own grandchildren, insuring their greater success and that of our nation and of our communities at the same time. Arranging hands-on learning opportunities for her grandchildren has become an important thing in her own life.
I've written before in the blog about the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition and how it brought three important things to American education. The manual arts movement came to the attention of US educators through a vast display of the Russian system of manual training and through a much smaller exhibit of Educational Sloyd. But one of the most cherished exhibits was a “Kindergarten Cottage” with an actual kindergarten classroom set up by the Froebel Society of Boston in which a trained teacher, Ruth Burritt, taught orphans 3 days per week. Burritt explained the method to thousands of visitors as the children followed “a typical kindergarten routine of playing, singing, movement games and manipulating Froebel’s gifts.” As described by Nina C. Vandewalker: “The enclosure for visitors was always crowded, many of the onlookers being hewers of wood and drawers of water who were attracted by the sweet singing and spellbound by the lovely spectacle.”
Kindergarten took root in America due to the enchantment of mothers, fathers, grandmothers and whole communities with loveliness and individualized sensibility as an alternative to the dismal circumstances then present in American education. We are ready for a new revolution... one in which small groups of mothers, grandmothers, moms and dads take a few things back from administrators and politicians and restore loveliness to learning for their own children.
We have only 6 making days before Christmas... Gifts that require the full exercise of makefulness are best. We know now that good things in American education won't happen because of the top down exercise of power, but will come when folks grasp the power we have in our own hands to make things better for each individual child. Today, the Clear Spring School lower elementary will deliver our hand made toy cars to the local food bank for holiday distribution.
Make, fix and create...