No thing can be done without either care or lack of it being expressed. And the practice of craftsmanship hones the spirit and sharpens the mind. Making objects of useful beauty from wood fulfills Froebel's principle of "creativeness," and should be one of the objectives of schooling.
In my upper elementary school class, my students had a sanding competition to see who could sand their cutting boards to the highest level of "smooth." When it comes to the exercise of craftsmanship in the creation of useful beauty, we all win, in that the character of the child is made whole. Is that so hard for educational policy makers to grasp?
This morning and afternoon I had two classes of middle and high school students making arrows. Cyrano explained that he had to leave school early. Could he spend his recess in the wood shop instead of in the play yard? He did not want to fall even a moment behind in his craftsmanship. So as I was preparing for my elementary school class, I was joined first by Cyrano, and then by Ozric, each quietly doing his own work.
In the meantime, I'm a bit at my wit's end trying to figure out how to get educational policy makers to understand the role that the hands can play in transformation of both the individual and in schooling at large. Is that my job or yours? Those folks are too busy thinking that computers and technology will solve all the world's problems.
The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) the international organization responsible for PISA testing, has done a study showing the utter failure of digital technology to deliver what it promised . Technology has thus far failed to deliver what educational experts have expected of their huge investment in it. Roughly speaking, the nations doing best in the education of their kids are the ones with the smallest investment in technology, and increases in the use of digital technology in school are not warranted.
The OECD notes:
frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.My thanks to David for sending the link: Computers 'do not improve' pupil results, says OECD.
Readers might be interested in thinking further on the subject. Tool users have long been dependent on the use of cognition implanted in the tools and devices we have made or purchased that enable us to work. OECD would naturally be measuring the intelligence of students without device in hand. Naturally holding the entire Cloud of worldwide information in your hands would make you seem intelligent and feel smart without really being so. The field of study on this is called "distributed cognition, or collective intelligence."
But are schools to be making kids smart, or simply providing a means through which they might appear so? And if we admit that the purpose of technology is to make difficult things easy for us, but that the development of self is dependent on doing and mastering difficult things, should we be flooding schools with new technologies, or instead developing the whole child through craftsmanship? I know the answer, but no one else seems to be asking the question.
Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning to do likewise.