Wednesday, January 07, 2015

creative opportunities they all need...

Yesterday we began making abacuses with the first grade students, and selected middle school students began work on the lathe. Others have been working on projects that stem from their own desires and inclinations. In the photo above, my assistant Greg is helping a student guide a power drill to form a tenon on a piece of white pine stock. The children are fascinated as they watch what the tool can do to the wood.

I had visitors in the shop yesterday, Jeff and his son Levi. Jeff is a cabinet maker with long experience, and like many of us has been troubled that the opportunities he had as a kid have evaporated for today's students. He is interested in starting a bus or trailer based woodworking program, so he and Levi are also going to California to visit a not-for-profit bus based  program, Side Street Projects.

The bus or trailer based program allows workbenches, tools and materials to be delivered to schools and birthday parties where kids get the kinds of real creative opportunities they ALL need and that these days, most miss out on.

At one point in American education, it was recognized that learning was an expressive act that involved testing physical reality, instead of absolute passivity being the norm. In today's schooling, teachers bear the burden of assessment, whereas when children do real things, they can see for themselves the quality of their own work.

So, the model that we have created in most schools, where the teacher may have well over a hundred kids and is responsible for grading each child involves a level of paper work that for most can be overwhelming. All of that grading time is taken away from the preparation of meaningful lessons. Parents, not seeing real work as a basis for assessment of their child's learning performance, become obsessed with their child's grades and blame the teacher if their little darlings are not given the honors they think they most certainly deserve and that their futures actually depend upon. It is an illness inflicted upon the American culture.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment