Sunday, March 02, 2014

The hand off or brush off.

The focus in American education has become that of preparing children for the next prescribed level. If they are in Kindergarten they must be prepared for first grade. If they are in first, they must be prepared for second. If they are in high school, they must be made ready for college or trade school. After College, if kids are lucky enough or persistent enough to get that far, or can afford it, kids are often left to fend for themselves and figure out some way what they've invested their whole lives in leads to some form of employment. What about preparation for life? The following is from John Dewey's "Pedagogic Creed."
"With the advent of democracy and modern industrial conditions, it is impossible to foretell definitely just what civilization will be twenty years from now. Hence it is impossible to prepare the child for any precise set of conditions. To prepare him for the future life means to give him command of himself; it means so to train him that he will have the full and ready use of all his capacities; that his eye and ear and hand may be tools ready to command, that his judgment may be capable of grasping the conditions under which it has to work, and the executive forces be trained to act economically and efficiently."
In reading David Whittaker's book on Sloyd, he mentioned that John Dewey and William James had each become interested in Otto Salomon's Educational Sloyd through the promotional work of Gustaf Larsson. Larsson had been the teacher selected by Salomon to carry the Sloyd method to the US and whose Sloyd teacher training school in Boston had great impact. I had wondered about how William James and John Dewey had become advocates of Educational Sloyd and the Manual Arts and now I know. When children are helped to conquer life, we offer our own skills in a hand off to future generations. When our system is set up to simply pass children to the next level of an artificial construct, schooling, we give them the brush off. To change that we set the hands to real work doing real things as stimulation, inducement and reinforcement of the mind's engagement and growth. John Dewey, like so many educators of his time, believed in the use of the hands in learning as a stimulant for the development of character and intellect.

 Make, fix and create... be a resource and inspiration for the children in your community.

1 comment:

  1. Or putting it in another way, I made a living teaching students at the community college how to study. Grade schools and high schools had thrown all sorts of content at them but nothing about how to study, how to learn. If high school especially had done their job, I could have taught something else.