Monday, March 28, 2016

Happy 424th...

This is the 424th Birthday of John Amos Comenius, father of modern pedagogy, but forgotten by most educators because they really don't like what he said... That boys are by their essential nature active and that we'd best put their natural inclinations to effective use rather than stifle them and waste our time and theirs by restraining them at desks in schooling.

While CSS has started back from spring break, almost all of my students are at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts for the week, engaged in various crafts like painting, pottery, blacksmithing and jewelry making. This break gives me the chance to unwind after my busy week in Portland, Oregon.

I have started using Duolingo to learn Norwegian, having already worked my way through what they offer in Swedish. Norwegian is made somewhat easier by having first studied Swedish, and by logging in twice a day, I can make progress in both. Of course the big problem is that I am no longer as young as I once was, and language learning is easier for the very young. But through persistence an older mind can make up for the inflexibility of the brain, and will warn you by email if you are about to miss a day of study.

As I've quoted many times before in the blog, it was recognized by many that the purposeful development of hand skills must be commenced at the earliest of possible ages. Even in these modern times they are necessary in nearly all things.
"The nascent period of the hand centres has not been accurately measured ... but its most active epoch being from the fourth to the fifteenth year, after which these centres in the large majority of persons become somewhat fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency ever afterwards. —Sir James Crichton-Browne
Just as the hands can become "fixed and stubborn," so too, can be the mind, when the student is beyond the most effective learning years for those things that require the senses of hearing and of touch, which are firmly centered in the sensory and motor cortices of the brain.

It was not stupidity when Froebel and Dewey and Montessori and so many others suggested that children should be engaged primarily in the manipulation of things, and learning through play. For at the earliest years, the activities of the sensory-motor cortices are most acute. So happy birthday Comenius. There are a few who have not forgotten you.

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

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