It is the motility of the hand, joined with its intrinsic sensitiveness, that makes it the supreme organ of perception. The rods and cones of the retina are not stereognostic. As MacDougall says, "The world becomes real to us only in so far as we are active in relation to it." Creatures with clumsy and callous limbs cannot get the varied tactual contact with the configuration of objects upon which clear perception depends. The exploring hand furnishes not only the passive tactual experiences, but the vivid, orderly kinaesthetic sensations which make it "a second visual sense by which the pathway of visual perception is illuminated." If teachers were only more profoundly convinced of the psychology of all this, they would not so exclusively address the eye and the ear. It seems to us that teachers should become more con scious of the hands of their pupils. When the whole boy comes to school, he brings his hands with him, and though they may sometimes be dirty, that is not their most vital characteristic. We know one teacher who does appreciate hands. She often takes pupils by the hand; she judges their temperament by the clasp, and when she wishes to under stand their passing mood, she feels the hand. By this "digital diagnosis " she learns more than she can in any other way. In fact, she has a half-conscious pedagogical palmistry which enables her to distinguish mischievous, sluggish, and nervous children by their hands. If she hesitates for a pupil's name, she looks at his hands and promptly the name comes back to her, so much individuality has the hand; and when she tries to recall a past schoolroom, an assemblage, not of faces but of hands, troops before her mind's eye.Readers might be interested in John Dewey's view of the hands.
I proposed a question, what would happen if teachers understood hands? My point is that you cannot understand children without taking their hands into consideration. That we have a model of education that fails to integrate the hands in learning means in essence that we have a education that is not based on an understanding of kids. To rectify that, we start with the understanding that the hands are the source and representation of human intelligence. Then we get into the specifics... hands-on learning including the arts, music, laboratory science and much more.
In the meantime, it is bitter cold in Arkansas as it is in much of the US. I have no school today due to ice, snow and cold, so I will be home editing text and keeping warm. The photo above is from The Library of Work and Play CARPENTRY AND WOODWORK BY EDWIN W. FOSTER
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