Tuesday, May 13, 2014

the power of discrimination and artistry.

I am preparing for Weekend with Wood in Des Moines on Friday. I will be teaching 5 classes over the two days I'll be in Des Moines and so I have lots to prepare before I leave on Thursday. I am also wrapping up my school year, helping my high school students to finish boxes, and beginning work on my book, "Making Kindergarten's Gifts." And of course, the real gift is what the child discovers within his or her own creative capacities. As I've mentioned so many times before, the purpose of educational sloyd was to put in place the Kindergarten method in the upper grades so that children throughout their schooling had the capacity to both learn and express learning in a tangible manner, learning real things from real life. The following is from Mrs. Horace Mann, in her guide to Kindergarten and the Moral Force of Infancy.
“For there is nothing merely mechanical and imitative in true Kindergarten culture: the child acts "from within outwards" in every thing it does, however seemingly trifling; and, if we use the word artist in its most general sense, becomes an artist from the beginning. Thus is prevented that too common divorce between the powers of thinking and acting, whose harmony ensures ability in a strict proportion to intellectual capacity. Consciousness of aim, and enjoyment of success, at every step develop new ideas and power, and fulfill that law of nature by which thought tends to rush into act instantly, as in childish play. Nothing is more melancholy in experience than to see people drifting instead of living; but this general failure of human life is owing to the fact, that the unassisted child is baffled in its will and balked of its desires, by a want of that steadiness of aim, perseverance, and knowledge of how to adapt means to ends, which adult sympathy and wisdom should supply; and from want of which it loses the original harmony of its being in the process of its growth. Kindergarten culture is the adult mind entering into the child's world, and appreciating nature's intention as displayed in every impulse of spontaneous life; and so directing it that the joy of success may be ensured at every step, and artistic things be actually produced, which gives the self-reliance and conscious intelligence that ought to discriminate human power from blind force.”--Elizabeth P. Peabody and Mary Mann, “Guide to the Kindergarten and Intermediate Class and Moral Culture of Infancy.”
Anyone who wonders about the moral force of childhood, should watch children at play. For instance, when at play in the Gaga court, our students at Clear Spring School don't need parents or teachers to tell them when they're out. When the rules of the game are clear, the children abide by them. As you can see in the photo above, the students took part in building he Gaga court, and so they take the play in it very seriously.

Make, fix and create...

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