Friday, April 22, 2016

Kindergarten and educational sloyd.

I have been at work on a cigar box guitar kit, as a way to begin outlining the parts of a guitar. It all comes in the box. The neck is marked where the frets would be. All the necessary holes are drilled in it, and all the parts are in the bag. If I was not interested in finishing the neck with urethane, I could have been done with it and playing in less than an hour. But instead, I took my time, applied three coats and used a wood burner to mark the dots on the neck.

The other side of things takes a bit more time. If you want to make the box for a box guitar, some box making skills are in order. If you want to make a fretted neck, either a sawing jig, a marking jig, or math are required.  If you want the neck to feel good in your hands, some shaping and sanding are required. So you can go as deep into the craftsmanship involved as you choose, and as your patience allows.

My book about making box guitars will break the guitar down into component parts and explore each, then mix and match offering the reader the chance of making his or her own guitar unique.

I have been asked about the relationship between Educational Sloyd and the Kindergarten movement. If you had attended the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, you would have discovered a Kindergarten classroom where adults stood mesmerized by children learning. If you visited the Swedish School House, supplied by the nation of Sweden as their national exhibit, you would have found a display of models provided by Otto Salomon's Sloyd School at Nääs. On the other hand you might have missed these important exhibits, drawn instead by the 11 acres of machinery, driven by the world's largest steam engine, and the Russian system of industrial arts education on full display.

But when Educational Sloyd was invented by Uno Cygnaeus in Finland, Kindergarten was very much on his mind. He had wondered how to carry the Kindergarten methods into the upper grades to enrich the learning of older students just as Kindergarten enriched the lives of the young. He relied on the lives and methods of Pestalozzi and Froebel to guide his path. From their early days in schooling, both educators placed emphasis on the use of crafts as an educational tool. Pestalozzi had asked for the development of an alphabet of skills commensurate with the alphabet of letters that had become the bane of most schooling. Froebel had his students of all ages building things, making nets from string, and crafting objects as important elements in their learning. Froebel was himself, a wood carver and the creator of his first gifts.

If you attended Otto Salomon's school at Nääs, you would have been informed by his lectures on pedagogy, delivered in 4 different languages and instead of just learning how to work wood, you would have learned about Kindergarten, the kindergarten method, the history of pedagogy and how to engage students in real learning. It is a great shame that students learning to become teachers are not taught those things today. But if they were, they might have unreasonable expectations concerning school. They might attempt to take a child centered approach and place themselves at odds with the powers that control education. Teachers who knew the full history of education would know that confining 25-30 kids at desks is an unreasonable and wasteful classroom exercise and would rebel against it.

The guitar shown above was made from a kit.

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

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