Independent schools share a long tradition of innovation and leadership in education. Going Ga Ga.
An interesting paper on the relationship between Pestalozzi and the Oswego Normal School in the US is available on-line: Pestalozzi and the Oswego Movement. During the time Pestalozzi's philosophy and methods were having their greatest impact, a rival system of education and of teaching educators had been put forth by Joseph Lancaster. In the paper on Pestalozzi and Oswego, this was referred to as the Lancastrian model. That model involved recitation and peer-to-peer teaching, and in some cases, those who were less successful at it or had become disruptive in the classroom were beaten or hung at the head of the class in cages. On the plus (and minus) side of the method, it led to large class sizes and what might have appeared as efficiency at the expense of humanity. Still today, education seems torn between two extremes: The gentleness of Pestalozzi, and the harsher edge of the Lancastrian model.
Joseph Lancaster's model was not without some merit. His motto was Qui docet, discit -- "He who teaches, learns." But from whence does learning commence? With recitation passed along by others? Or through being connected to real life?
In Pestalozzi's school, teachers too, had occasionally become trapped in antiquarian methods. I am once again reminded of this story about Pestalozzi:
Back in the late 1700’s a child in Pestalozzi’s school challenged his teacher, “You want me to learn the word ladder, but you show me a picture. Wouldn’t it be better to go look at the real ladder in the shed?” The teacher was frustrated by the child’s interruption and explained that he would rather not take the whole class outside the building just to look at a ladder. Later, the same child was shown the picture of a window and again interrupted the teacher. “Wouldn’t it be better to talk about the real window that is right there? We don’t even have to go outside to look at it!” The teacher asked Pestalozzi about the incident and was informed that the child was right. Whenever possible children should learn from the real world and the experiences it offers.Learning is best when it comes first hand.
I have begun receiving hand drills that I ordered last week through eBay. There are pages and pages of drills available on eBay and more coming up each day, so there are plenty left for you to equip your own shop and put into the hands of your own kids. While the Lancastrian model involved drill and recitation, at Clear Spring School, we drill into real wood and learn from the experience.
Make, fix and create...