Monday, May 11, 2015

moving forward like clockwork...

Anchor escapement animation 217x328px.gif
"Anchor escapement animation 217x328px" by Chetvorno
At Clear Spring School, I'm attempting to repair a grandfather clock that belongs to a supporter of the school. Dave was a long time board member and former board president. The clock had been made in the 1960s by his uncle at the age of 82. It was the third his uncle had made and had suffered in its making by diminished eyesight and declining health, nevertheless, it then suffered through two moves to Argentina, one to El Salvador and then what was to be its final journey as a basket case in the back of my truck to be taken apart by students at Clear Spring School in their study of physics and mechanics, and for the recycling of walnut from the case.

However, the owner of the clock, evidenced such care in careful retention of all the parts, that being dismantled for the reuse of the walnut, and the wrecking of the intricate mechanism that had kept time for over 50 years on two continents, seemed to be an overly destructive solution to a non-working clock.

At this point, I have the machinery of the clock working, and will turn my attention to returning the case to a shape in which it can survive another 50 years.

Schools are devised like clock works of an earlier age. Children are to pass through en mass, learning certain things in order and surely it is noted correctly that children pass through distinct phases of development. Unfortunately, they do so based on a clock within, and not one that is easily and successfully imposed from outside. Children are not clockwork.

However, we can move forward just like the clock in my school wood shop is moving forward one tic, and corresponding tock, as you read these words. It will be by paying close attention to the learning needs of each individual child, by realizing that the "class" as an institutional device too often supersedes the learning needs of the individual child, and that each boy and each girl needs the opportunity to learn by discovery. Put tools in their hands, and give them the materials from which to create.

Regarding the clock, you can learn a lot about its workings by listening to the balance of sounds. When the tick and the tock are heard at equal volume there is a greater coordination between the movement of the pendulum and the force exerted by the weight on the escapement.

Can we also listen very carefully to children in the same manner?

Make, fix and create...

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