Sunday, August 17, 2014

dexterous thinking...

I have updated my Amazon Author's page.


dekˈsteritē noun: dexterity

skill in performing tasks, especially with the hands.

We also think of the mind as having dexterity, particularly when it is flexible in its thinking, nimble and quick. We tend not to think of intelligence as arising from the use of the hands, and yet it is so that both character and intellect arise through the process of craftsmanship.

If anyone wants a careful explanation of all this, they might read Will-Developed Intelligence, Handwork & Practical Arts in the Waldorf School Elementary Through High School, by David Mitchell and Patricia Livingston. Some of Rudolf Steiner's writings are filled with concepts that take some effort to grasp, and the use of philosophical jargon is always a thing that presents challenges to those who are not already into the study of such things. But this text serves as a strong rationale for the purposeful engagement of the hands. Steiner had said,
"We are living in he midst of a world produced by man, formed by human thoughts, which we use, and which we don't understand. This fact, that we understand nothing of something which is formed by man, of something which is basically the result of human thoughts, has great significance for the entire sphere in which the human soul and spirit live... The worst is experiencing a world made by man, without concerning oneself with it in the slightest.-- Rudolf Steiner-- The Study of Man.
 Just think of your own life as an example. How many times a day do you engage in the use of technologies that you can't understand? We have become comfortable with this situation. But would we have a greater sense of mastery and completeness if we had the capacity to see behind the flat screen of modern day technologies? To understand simple things prepares us to understand and manage complexity. Children are routinely introduced to things that seem simple on the surface, but that are far beyond their abilities to understand, and are thus completely out of their control and with no simple starting point for their intellectual engagement and exploration. These technologies are a means through which children and adults are easily manipulated, but that they are unable to manipulate themselves except in the most superficial manner.

Children would be best off being given saws and hammers rather than iPhone and iPads, even if they left trails of sawdust behind them and sawed the legs off our favorite chairs.

I'd written earlier about the necessary education of will. My readers may enjoy this old blog post from 2011. The education of the will. 

I titled this post dexterous thinking as a follow up to some reading I've done on the subject of "visual thinking." For surely if some are "visual thinkers," others of us are dextrous. But rather than set one sense in contention with another, in the making of human intelligence we should note that when children are set to work doing real things, and all the senses are thus engaged, learning takes place in depth and to greatest lasting effect..

Make, fix and create...

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