Post modern education sets children apart from real life into circumstances contrived to impart specifically prescribed things. Reading is one. Math is another. Science or religion another. Art and PE are thrown in as escapes from more rigorous academic, abstract learning. But when Froebel said what he said and that he is most famous for saying, was that what he had in mind?
To live with is a two way street. It means bringing children into our activities and entering into theirs, not as a detachment in form from real life, but as a part of life itself. One of the ways to bring real life into a classroom is through the use of real tools and real materials and making real object that have use in the child's life and in the home. Kindergarten made use of real life by the introduction of gifts and occupations that were intended to help the child's understanding of real life. Educational Sloyd built upon that.
“The sensational curiosity of childhood is appealed to more particularly by certain determinate kinds of objects. Material things, things that move, living things, human actions and accounts of human action, will win the attention better than anything that is more abstract. Here again comes in the advantage of the object-teaching and manual training methods. The pupil's attention is spontaneously held by any problem that involves the presentation of a new material object or of an activity on any one's part. The teacher's earliest appeals, therefore, must be through objects shown or acts performed or described. Theoretic curiosity, curiosity about the rational relations between things, can hardly be said to awake at all until adolescence is reached.” -- William James. Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals.Much of what troubles post modern education is its artificiality. Even the pretense that it is all engineered as a benefit for our children is a distortion of the facts. I believe that what Froebel had in mind was to fix what became missing in his own life at the death of his mother. It was not for children to be set aside in the pretense of education, but to be included, taken along with, lived with and loved.
Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my lower elementary school students will be finishing their t-rex dinosaur models.
Make, fix and create...