|Lids textured and ready for milk paint|
Yesterday I wrote about William James description of native impulses that should be captured by the teachers and schools and made use of to drive student learning. I did not make it through the full list, and one that I overlooked was ownership. Ownership may refer to objects or collections of objects, but it may, as the student grows refer to ideas. Thus "my idea" is set apart from those acquired by imitation and children love owning ideas as well as things. In fact, adults do, too, and I love coming up with new techniques that I fully own by being able to use and to teach others to do so.
“The teacher who can work this impulse into the school tasks is fortunate. Almost all children collect something. A tactful teacher may get them to take pleasure in collecting books; in keeping a neat and orderly collection of notes; in starting, when they are mature enough, a card catalogue; in preserving every drawing or map which they may make. Neatness, order, and method are thus instinctively gained, along with the other benefits which the possession of the collection entails. Even such a noisome thing as a collection of postage stamps may be used by the teacher as an inciter of interest in the geographical and historical information which she desires to impart. Sloyd successfully avails itself of this instinct in causing the pupil to make a collection of wooden implements fit for his own private use at home. Collecting is, of course, the basis of all natural history study; and probably nobody ever became a good naturalist who was not an unusually active collector when a boy.” - William James, Talks with Teachers on Psychology, 1899.Ownership of ideas is the consequence of discovery. Ideas derived from reading in books do not necessarily convey a sense of ownership. That comes through mastery of a skill, or concept that can only come through practice, self discovery, and performance, or demonstration. And children do enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate some form of mastery and ownership, whether it is over things, skills, tools or over ideas. Craftsmanship involves both the idea and the object. The use of the tool as expression of thought, and the finished object are each manifestations of the child's learning and growth.
Make, fix and create. Teach others to do likewise.