Tuesday, October 20, 2015

early childhood...

Friedrich Froebel was the inventor of early childhood education, and echoed Pestalozzi's call to young mothers to take a  decisive role in their children's learning. How do I state this as clearly as I am able? I will rely upon Bertha Von Marenholtz-Bülow, 1882 as follows:
Every human being possesses some special endowment which is the strongest of his powers, and the development of which may lead to original production. The one gifted with a strong sense of form and beauty builds a cathedral which is a masterpiece; another with the same kind of gift, only in a lesser degree, contracts tables, vases, or shoes in a perfect manner. Be it great or small, some spark of productive genius dwells in every living being called by the name of man, for a being formed after the image of the Creator must be destined to create. How much, however, of this human creative power fulfills its end, and how much of it is lost, is a calculation which no statistician would be equal to. But what can a state accomplish without cultivated human powers? The feeblest spark of genius may grow into a flame if it receives adequate fuel or nourishment. But this is precisely what is wanting in earliest childhood.
We need a revolution in education, but not the one proposed by technocrats and corporate investors. As Bernie Sanders mentioned in a speech on Sunday, those who care for our children in preschools are often trained and paid less than the clerks at MacDonalds. Are children of so little importance to us that they are to be flipped and placed on buns? Young mothers, too, should be trained to take part in a revolution. That revolution was what Froebel started in his invention of Kindergarten through which the important role of mothers as the child's first teacher was made known, and through which women were drawn into the profession of teaching for the first time. That revolution also played a great part in the manual training movement as schools attempted to enliven schooling at all levels through making real things and exercising the student's inclination to toward skilled craftsmanship. That revolution fell relatively dormant during the beginnings of the computer age, but while technologies have changed, human beings and the need to learn through the exercise of our creative capacities has not.

Today in the CSS wood shop, my home schooled students finished their toy making class. It was an interesting class as the boys made things I'd never thought of as toys. One made a small door complete with knob. Another told me, after making a thing that I could not name, that it was 80% complete and that he would finish it at home.  My 7th and 8th grade students worked on their bows and arrows and one began making a box. Creative genius is not launched by every student doing the same thing at the same time and to the same standards of mediocrity.

Make, fix, create, and assist others to learn likewise.

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