A good question that educational policy makers could ask, is how do we create schooling in which the natural interests of the child are sufficiently captured, so that self-directed learning is engaged. Froebel had called that "self-activity." Just because a child is active does not mean that he is not learning. In fact, the child's activity suggests that learning is taking place.
In speaking of the delinquent or disadvantaged child and the more advantaged child as well, Felix Adler (1888) wrote on the integration of two important points:
First... History, geography, and arithmetic are not, as a rule, interesting to young children, especially to young children of the class with which we are now dealing. These listless minds are not easily roused to an interest in abstractions. Secondly, it is a notorious fact that the intellectual culture, pure and simple, is quite consistent with weakness of the will. A person may have very high intellectual attainments, and yet be morally deficient. I need hardly warn my reflective hearers that, when emphasizing the importance for the will of intellectual culture, I had in mind the intellectual process as applied to acts. To cultivate the intellect in its own sphere of contemplation and abstractions, apart from action my leave the will precisely a feeble as it was before.Make, fix, create, and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.
And now, all that has been said thus far converges upon the point that has been in view from the beginning––the importance of manual training as an element in disciplining the will. Manual training fulfills the conditions I have just alluded to. It is interesting to the young, as history, geography and arithmetic often are not. Precisely those pupils who take the least interest or show the least aptitude of literary study are often the most proficient in the workshop and modeling room.... Thus manual training fulfills the one essential condition––it is interesting. It also fulfills the second. By manual training we cultivate the intellect in close connection with action. Manual training consists of a series of actions which are controlled by the mind, and which react on it. Let the task assigned be, for instance, the making of a wooden box...