Wednesday, May 13, 2015

constructing an understanding of the universe...

Choose which textures you hope will speak to the viewer.
Defending the Early Years has come out with a new paper challenging the application of the Common Core Standards for Math in Kindergarten. It seems that when the common core curriculum was proposed, the experts in charge made decisions about what they wanted children to know when they reached college and worked back from there with too little regard for the developmental principles involved in a child's readiness to learn. Again, it's much a matter of assuming children operate like clockworks, that they can be clustered in classes and fed discrete packets of information all at the same time and at some level of effectiveness without regard for their readiness to learn. But just as adults may have sudden compelling insight, it can be the same with kids.

We operate best on the basis of discovery and the educational enthusiasm that can arise when we discover something ourselves stimulates the flow of neural hormones that demand replication, repetition and refinement. Very sadly, those kinds of experiences of raw discovery do not happen very often in classroom settings where children are given nothing to DO.

Just as Finland does a more effective job of teaching reading by waiting until the children are ready to read, the same applies to math. Still, as outlined in the paper above, there are things that teachers and parents can do to build the foundation for math, and it's done by applying the child's hands and minds through learning to do real things. Woodworking, for instance.

We are closing in the completion of my 14th year of the Wisdom of the Hands program at Clear Spring School. When I began, my hope was to demonstrate the value of hands on learning and also to create within myself, a clear voice of authority for describing the means through which the hands and mind are harnessed toward effective learning. In those 14 years, I have made many friends, but few inroads into mainstream education. And much of the problem, I think, has to do with the reluctance on the part of educational policy makers to see how children really learn and how they can be most effectively and efficiently led to success, and how that success is best measured.

It's the same old same old. As a new friend noted:
This is a class issue. From the times of the Greeks, of which the overwhelming majority were slaves, a mark of the upper classes was to have other people do hand work while they did the thinking and relaxing. Academic subculture descends from the Greek philosophers, and has been reinforced over the millennia by that same class distinction. But, to know how to think and use your hands – now that’s power!
But it's a power we must claim for ourselves and that we must assert in the face of those who would continue to enslave us.

Today I will be at home writing chapters for my new book on tiny boxes. In the meantime, and as a walk down memory lane, you might enjoy reading this, How did you learn all that. Part of the problem in education is that adults feel the compulsion to mold the child's understanding of the universe rather than using school resources to extend the child's opportunity to discover it for themselves. And so the simple question, "How did you learn all that?" applies.

Make, fix and create...

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