Saturday, November 29, 2014

rightly conducted...

This from Robert Keable Row, 1909, the addition in bold parenthesis is mine:
Rightly conducted, manual arts and industries furnish abundant exercise for all forms of intellectual activity, under conditions most favorable to mental (and moral) development.

If the purpose of education is that of creating situations of dependency, in which people are enchained as consumers and left without the where-with-all and without the initiative or power to create change in their own lives, we've made the right schools for it. Put 30 or more students in a classroom, stuffed to the point that teachers have no choice but to invest the greater part of their attention in maintaining control, rather than in the delivery of meaningful content, and you've placed both the teachers and students in an untenable situation. After years of dependency, and idleness students may turn to crime simply to have some control over their own lives.

Would it not be better that they be offered craftsmanship instead? It lies within the scope of the child's most natural inclinations. As proposed by Comenius, and as shared so many times before in this blog that I feel redundant in bringing it up,
"Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do."
Instead, we leave them restrained in seats, losing thereby, our most powerful educational resource, their attention. The following is from David Henry Feldman's paper, the Child as Craftsman:
To see a child as a craftsman means to see him as a person who wants to be good at something. It also suggests that the child continually takes pride in accomplishment and has a sense of integrity about his work, regardless of the actual level of the work produced. The notion is somewhat akin to Robert White's competence motivation, except that White's notion implies more of a need to feel mastery over uncontrolled forces in the environment. The child as craftsman no doubt is moved by what White refers to as "effectance motivation," but the metaphor is intended to go beyond this to include a more direct link to specific fields of endeavor and to suggest why some activities are so much more compelling to a given child than others...

Perhaps the most important implication of the metaphor is to suggest that it may well be the main purpose of education to provide conditions under which each child will identify and find satisfaction through a chosen field or fields of work.
The price we pay for for failing to engage children in craftsmanship is enormous. Think of the waste of lives of those young men and women who turn to crime, or spend their early years incarcerated, instead of becoming productively and creatively engaged. Think of the loss of dignity, that comes from our failing to enlist them in craftsmanship.

I know this blog won't be one that gains the attention necessary to turn the tide, change the direction in American education. So we must take matters into our own hands.

Make, fix and create...

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