Monday, February 17, 2014

The law of transitoriness.

I have been following discussion at the Washington Post for their article, A very scary headline about kindergartners. It is very troubling that so many educators no longer know what Kindergarten is for. It is equally troubling that in their push for conformity, they are either ignorant or choosing to ignore basic, long held principles of child development. My own comment on the site is as follows:
"In Finland, they begin reading in school at age 8 and by age 15 far surpass young readers in American schools in 30% less time. We should be learning something from that. Some have said that it's easy for Finland because they are a homogeneous nation. They are not. In fact, they have two national languages, Finnish and Swedish. While their students are surpassing ours, they are also learning to speak English, and often German or French.

"When I visited in Helsinki in 2009, one of the things I did was visit the University of Helsinki wood shop where they were teaching Kindergarten teachers to teach wood working in schools. The great shame of American education is that we've neglected those things that make children most interested in being in school, and made school even more boring. With the push to make kindergarten more academic, we've simply made kids bored much sooner in their education than they were previously."
To which tmx replied: "Boring schools are a good preparation for the boring low wage jobs corporate bosses are giving to America." Perhaps that's the point. But child development principles are nothing new. To purposefully ignore all that we know about child development should be considered criminal and a form of child abuse.
“In children we observe a ripening of impulses and interests in a certain determinate order. Creeping, walking, climbing, imitating vocal sounds, constructing, drawing, calculating, possess the child in succession; and in some children the possession, while it lasts, may be of a semi-frantic and exclusive sort. Later, the interest in any one of these things may wholly fade away. Of course, the proper pedagogic moment to work skill in, and to clench the useful habit, is when the native impulse is most acutely present. Crowd on the athletic opportunities, the mental arithmetic, the verse-learning, the drawing, the botany, or what not, the moment you have reason to think the hour is ripe. The hour may not last long, and while it continues you may safely let all the child's other occupations take a second place. In this way you economize time and deepen skill; for many an infant prodigy, artistic or mathematical, has a flowering epoch of but a few months.

"One can draw no specific rules for all this. It depends on close observation in the particular case, and parents here have a great advantage over teachers. In fact, the law of transitoriness has little chance of individualized application in the schools." - William James Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some of Life's Ideals, 1899.
 The photo above shows a simple technique for cutting excess length of miter keys prior to sanding.

Make, fix, create, and help others to do likewise...


  1. Can you suggest any sources that explain the woodworking curriculum in Finnish schools?

  2. Can you suggest any sources that details the woodworking curriculum in Finnish schools?

  3. I'm sorry, I've not run across any sources in English and don't read Finnish. The Kindergarten teachers I observed were working on a variety of projects.