Saturday, January 30, 2016

More boxes...

Boxes in the works and beautiful walnut for the top panels
Today in the wood shop I began making more sample boxes to take to Portland for one of my upcoming classes there. A lesson I've learned from Educational Sloyd, but also from working with children and adults is that we learn best from concrete objects and from concrete hands-on experiences. So when I travel to teach, I travel with boxes that my students can hold, examine, pass around and copy if they like. If I want my students to make something, there is no better way to assist their vision of how to make it or how they would improve upon it than to offer one of my own.

Yesterday afternoon when I went to the grocery store, I saw one of my students who said, "I wish I had all day, everyday wood shop." He's not the first to have said such a thing. And of course the reason for it is that students of all ages have a need to do real things, and you can't get much more real than to use real tools to make real things from wood.

I was reminded of developmental psychology this afternoon at a staff meeting when my fellow teachers were talking about their their own children and when new teeth arrive. Fortunately teeth generally come in at the right place, but the timing can vary widely just as does every other aspect of human development.

The following is from a website, noting the relationship between capacity for intellectual development and development of the brain.
The stages of intellectual development formulated by Piaget appear to be related to major developments in brain growth. The human brain is not fully developed until late adolescence or in the case of males sometimes early adulthood. We often expect children to think like adults when they are not yet capable of doing so. It is important that parents know what to expect from their child as they develop and to be sure that the expectations they may have for their child at a given age are realistic. ––
The tragic thing here is that education in America makes far too little allowance for the variations in human development. If you are a "late bloomer," you'll be lucky to escape schooling with any sense of academic self-confidence in tact. The important thing to note is that even adults do not outgrow the necessity of concrete engagement even though they may have far surpassed the age of 15 and are fully capable of abstract thought. But take my student as an example. Nearly 15, he already knows what he likes, why he likes it, and how wood shop compares with other forms of learning, whereas many or perhaps most children may never know. If school were to focus more on concrete learning, students still not in the formal operational stage would at least have some fighting chance of understanding their own capacities.

On the boxes shown above, can you imagine how beautiful the figured walnut panels will be framed in cherry and white oak? Can you imagine what it means to kids to have the opportunity to create useful beauty from their own imaginations and from the tools and materials at hand?

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

1 comment:

  1. Hi Doug,
    When I studied Piaget and stages of child development I learned about the corresponding "spurts" of brain growh by reading research by Epstein. Here's a place to look if you have the time: THE ROLES OF BRAIN IN HUMAN COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT by Dr. Herman T. Epstein Keep up the great work!