Thursday, September 18, 2014

the dovetailedness of things...

Today in the wood shop at Clear Spring School my students from 5th grade and up began working on sketchup. My object is to get them designing. The program itself is fun and engaging. But when they have to work a bit harder at their play, I'll know that they are learning. Meanwhile in the science lab across the hall, we had a visit from the chicken lady, Alice McKee. Hands-on learning with real chickens is so  much more fun than learing from books.

The development of everyday virtues and the dovetailedness of all things. It is nice to see woodworking talk infused in an understanding of educational philosophy. From the Kindergarten by Kate Douglas Wiggins, 1893
The student of political economy sees clearly enough the need of greater thrift and frugality in the nation; but where and when do we propose to develop these virtues? Precious little time is given to them in most schools, for their cultivation does not yet seem to be insisted upon as an integral part of the scheme. Here and there an inspired human being seizes on the thought that the child should really be taught how to live at some time between the ages of six and sixteen, or he may not learn so easily afterwards. Accordingly, the pupils under the guidance of that particular person catch a glimpse of eternal verities between the printed lines of their geographies and grammars. The kindergarten makes the growth of every-day virtues so simple, so gradual, even so easy, that you are almost beguiled into thinking them commonplace. They seem to come in, just by-the-way, as it were, so that at the end of the day you have seen thought and word and deed so sweetly mingled that you marvel at the "universal dovetailedness of things," as Dickens puts it.
In American education, policy makers have seemingly forgotten that school is not just about standardized test scores, but also about learning to manage life and do real things. Our classrooms are lacking in reality, and the children are thus led to believe that schooling is of no greater meaning. Dickens' quote about dovetailedness comes from the following:
"The unities, sir,' he said, "are a completeness—a kind of universal dovetailedness with regard to place and time—a sort of general oneness, if I may be allowed to use so strong an expression. I take those to be the dramatic unities, so far as I have been enabled to bestow attention upon them, and I have read much upon the subject, and thought much." Charles Dickens (1812-1870), British novelist. Mr. Curdle in Nicholas Nickleby, ch. 24, pp. 311-312 (1839).
Today in my wood shop, I am making boxes. At school, I am making racks for lathe tools in my quest to organize the new shop space. I have been loading Sketchup Make 2014 to the school's laptops, and plan to have the students in middle and high school at work with sketchup for the first time this afternoon.

Make, fix and create...

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