Wednesday, January 06, 2016

coping with contrivance

Yesterday in the wood shop at Clear Spring School I officially launched the project of making box guitars even though several students had taken a head start last week. My students are generally excited about it. I'm hoping to use this project to develop greater mindfulness. In order to make a box for the body of the guitar that works, corners must be cut and assembled square so the body will be flat. In order to make a guitar that offers some pleasure in playing it, the neck should be smoothly shaped to fit the hand. And so to just take a tool and whack away mindlessly without checking and rechecking may not bring satisfactory results.

I want to go back to yesterday's conversation about Piaget's formal operational stage. The simple point is that child development cuts both ways. Not only does entry to the formal operational stage allow the child to do mathematics operations in his or her head, and to engage in formulating hypotheses, it is also the culmination of years of study by the child of the environment in which it has (hopefully) used its senses to explore and make determination of the fundamental features of reality. Newly equipped to see through contrivance, and to assess the unreality of schooling, some children rebel against it. Others soldier on, propped up by support systems in the home, or by goals of attending particular colleges, all the while knowing that what they endure is little more than a game with high stakes.

For those who soldier on, as though the artificiality of schooling does not matter, we assume wrongly that the system has granted success. We assume that the damages to those who do not fit the system for one reason or another are simply the price we pay for the success of others.

But I believe the whole of our society, even those who are granted success in the system, suffer from schools in which doing nothing real is the norm. There is a real world out there, that offers greater opportunity than can be found inside the head.

Make, fix, create and extend to others the chance to learn likewise.

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