Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My objectives...

Origami ball by Lucy Stowe
As my regular readers will know, I've been immersed once again in a study of Kindergarten and have about a half dozen books on my reader that have been providing an insight into an earlier time in American education. In the Law of Childhood, William Nicholas Hailmann told us that Froebel had considered moving to the US at one time, finding Germany to be less open to any creative ideas on education than he presumed the new nation of the United States might be:
"It is to us a matter of self-congratulation and serious reflection that Froebel, in an article written in 1836, and discussing emigration as a mode to attain his purposes, pointed to the United States as a country offering all the conditions for the existence of genuine family life, as a country where such life is at least sought and can freely develop; and that his most prominent disciple, the Baroness Marenholtz-Bulow, adds her testimony to his when she writes: ''America, where in truth a new world is forming, which possesses all the creative power of a young state, where the individual enjoys full liberty, and no artificial restraint prevents carrying out his own designs in his own way, we look upon as the field for our richest harvest. 'Yes,' she adds, 'the United States of America offer, more than any other country upon the earth, the conditions necessary for the development of a sound, rational, national system of education, similar to the one planned by Froebel."
The US was indeed open to Froebel's ideas up to a certain point. Led by the Froebel ideal, we got Kindergartens, and Educational Sloyd as a contributor to the great experiment in manual arts training. Since that time, manual arts have been virtually erased from most schooling and Kindergarten remains in name only, and with none of the features that would have warmed Froebel's heart to have seen. This is Christmas day, a time very special for most children in the US and Europe. It's a time that parents share a focus to the best of their unique abilities to fulfill Froebel's most important precept. "Let us live for our children."

Teaching at NWA November 2013
We know that shop classes exactly like we had in the US throughout most of the last century are not coming back. Many of them had declined to the point that their original mission of imparting character and intelligence to ALL children had been forgotten. And we know that the US would never again, take on a Kindergarten revolution, because we have become more regimented than Germany of the 19th century when Froebel was considering more fertile fields for his reinvention of education. But if we keep in mind that our brains are in our hands, and that we must live for our children (not only at Christmastime), we will commence together on a highway of educational renewal. It's not magic. It's not easy. But it can happen when we each apply our hands in a creative fashion and begin to realize that we must be making things, luring our children into our creative endeavors, and empowering them to create.
“I want to live in a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making things.” — William S. Coperthwaite • 1930-2013
I received a copy of the NWA newsletter which offers a review of my class taught in Clifton Park, NY in November. You can read the newsletter here.

The origami ball Christmas ornament is one of the rewards that you might find someday from encouraging your child in hands-on learning. My daughter has been working quietly for days in preparation for Christmas, and made a variety of ornaments to supplement those she had made from pipe cleaners in pre-school.

Merry Christmas to my regular readers and all, who might stumble upon this site.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:38 PM

    A lovely post, sir. Merry, merry Christmas!