Tuesday, December 31, 2013

words from a different age...

The close relationship between Kindergarten and the manual training movement and the use of Kindergarten as a precursor to industrial training were described by Countess Bertha Maria Marenholtz-Bülow's book, Hand work & head work; their relation to one another, and the reform of education, according to the principles of Froebel, 1882. For example:
In the Kindergarten, for instance, the industries which are to be carried on in after-life are not practiced as such, but every limb, every sense, every muscle and every nerve, is set in action, and the general manipulations common to all handicrafts are practiced. The young child cannot fell and saw down trees, or break stones to build with; and, therefore, beams and bricks are given to him, but he is left to experimentalise with them according to his fancy. He cannot carve wood and stone, but he can cut up paper, leather, and other soft materials; he cannot chisel in marble, but he can shape soft clay; he cannot handle a plane, a hammer, and such-like instruments, with any profit or result, but by using a slate-pencil, a pair of scissors, or a pin for pricking out, he may acquire the general kind of handiness which is so desirable. But the manual dexterity which is necessary for the mere mechanical part of handiwork is only part of the culture which should be given to every child. Unless their sense of beauty be awakened, and their minds opened to elements of art, their work will be of a nature to destroy all intellectual life. The aesthetic culture which, according to Fourrier, is to be arrived at by the mere contemplation of art, and the hearing of music, the Kindergarten effects by means of the pupil's own productions.
Countess Bertha Maria Marenholtz-Bülow had become one of the earliest and most important contributors to Froebel's successful introduction of Kindergarten, and she hunderstood its important role as the precursor to manual arts education. I believe the Fourrier she was referring to was French philosopher Charles Fourier. With regard to education, he believed:
...that "civilized" parents and teachers saw children as little idlers. Fourier felt that this way of thinking was wrong. He felt that children as early as age two and three were very industrious. He listed the dominant tastes in all children to include, but not limited to:
  1. Rummaging or inclination to handle everything, examine everything, look through everything, to constantly change occupations;
  2. Industrial commotion, taste for noisy occupations;
  3. Aping or imitative mania.
  4. Industrial miniature, a taste for miniature workshops.
  5. Progressive attraction of the weak toward the strong.
Today I will continue editing chapters of the book, writing sidebars, and taking advantage of the time before school starts up in a new year.

Lifting schools to conform to the  highest and most noble of human inclinations was once a concern for nobility. Where is that nobility when we seem to need it most? You don't have to be a prince or a king or a countess for that. Kindergarten and the manual training movement united some of the finest intellectuals and philosophers in the world at one point, and it centered around an understanding that the hands and the making of useful beauty were the primary tools for the development of character and intelligence. Now educators think that children can grow to their maximum capacities by pushing buttons and by demonstrating the power of our machines, the intelligence of which was placed in their innards by others.

Make, fix and create...

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