Every intellectual revolution which has ever stirred humanity into greatness has been a passionate protest against inert ideas. Then, alas, with pathetic ignorance of human psychology, it has proceeded by some educational scheme to bind humanity afresh with inert ideas of its own fashioning.The passionate protest at this point must become a revolution enacted against education itself, as it has become mired in standards, and too often a smorgasbord of ideas with little served to greater depth. When in schooling do children become engaged to such great depths that their passions extend beyond themselves? At Clear Spring School, I have been helping students with demonstration projects in Physics, keeping the shop and tools available to them as they explore various ideas.
Let us now ask how in our system of education we are to guard against this mental dry rot. We enunciate two educational commandments, “Do not teach too many subjects,” and again, “What you teach, teach thoroughly.”
The result of teaching small parts of a large number of subjects is the passive reception of disconnected ideas, not illumined with any spark of vitality. Let the main ideas which are introduced into a child’s education be few and important, and let them be thrown into every combination possible. The child should make them his own, and should understand their application here and now in the circumstances of his actual life. From the very beginning of his education, the child should experience the joy of discovery. The discovery which he has to make, is that general ideas give an understanding of that stream of events which pours through his life, which is his life.
Make, fix and create...