Monday, April 14, 2014

Make your soul grow...

Kurt Vonnegut's last writing assignment, written to a high school  in New York.

Make Your Soul Grow from Dogtooth Films on Vimeo.

What we need most now is the growth of the souls of educational policy makers so that they might see things as they truly are. Human beings are creative. We are expressive. Lacking interference by the humdrum, we follow leaps of learning into the making of useful beauty in the forms of music, art, and science. The only thing that can prevent those leaps appears to be the rigidity of our schooling.

There is a growing reaction to standardized testing and the core curriculum described in an article this week in Time Magazine. With all the pressures being put on children to all perform according to certain standards, when will children be exposed to great literature, the chance to write poetry, or to make a beautiful box?

For the coming months I'll be rooted in the subject of Kindergarten. I am starting on a new book, Making Kindergarten's Gifts, that I hope will stir young fathers and mothers and grandparents to take a greater interest in the progressive education of their own children.

When I went to Sweden and Otto Salomon's international school for teachers of Sloyd in 2006, one of the things that surprised me was the deep historic connection between Educational Sloyd and Kindergarten. The two movements were deeply entwined both in origins and philosophy. Both were firmly rooted in Froebel's thoughts. While the Russian system of manual training was concerned with giving students industrial and economic capacity (nothing wrong with that), Educational Sloyd was intended to grow the whole child, in physical strength, emotional balance, intellect and connectedness to greater purpose, and was intended as a continuation of Kindergarten methods throughout schooling.

The following is from Froebel's The Education of Man,
"Thus we find the human being, even in the earlier stages of boyhood fitted for the highest and most important business  of life--the fulfillment of his destiny and vocation, which is the representation (or outer active manifestation) of the divine nature within him. To lead this capability forward tot he acquirement of skill and certainly, to lift it into full consciousness, to give it insight and clearness, and to exalt it into a life of creative freedom by fitting stages of development and cultivation, is the business of the years which are not to follow. To demonstrating the ways and means for this, and of bringing them into the actual practice of life, a continuation of this treatise will be devoted, as will also the author's own life."
Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my upper elementary school students will be working on their robot ramp walkers. This is a testing time in which we will learn whether or not they will work. They can be frustrating to tune just right and I'm hoping there are no great disappointments.

Make, fix and create...

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