Saturday, May 14, 2016
This is Books in Bloom weekend when the literary festival my wife and the Carroll and Madison Library Foundation started 11 years ago brings readers and writers together in a lovely outdoor event. I will be occupied by tasks and chores and unlikely to get much shop time today or tomorrow.
In the meantime, we can ask the simple question, "if we know that hands-on learning works best, and has been proven to work to greatest lasting effect, why don't we do something about it?" Simple question, perhaps, but the answer is complex. I'll simplify things in four parts.
One part of the answer of course, is ignorance. We've had generations of teachers who have never been encouraged to test a hands-on approach. Getting them to see the light requires that they be challenged to grow in ways they never dreamed before. They have been rewarded with the idea that they are smart due to their facility with a particular style of learning that only fits a small proportion of the population, and are likely untrained in any alternate learning style.
A second part has to do with the perceived value of information, vs. understanding of process. Having information allows you to test well. Understanding process requires that you actually do real things and gives the capacity to continue doing real things.
And the third part is that hands-on learning can be messy and chaotic. It involves tools, and students in varying degrees of action, rather than being desk bound and complaisant. In other words, it's messy, when policy makers and administrators want things clean, quiet, and orderly. Real learning is not.
A fourth part is that because hands-on learning is messy and requires tools and materials, even as simple as paper and scissors, more individualized teaching time is required.
Any one of these four parts could be sufficient excuse for those who want education on the cheap and are willing to sacrifice future generations and future prosperity on the altar of the almighty dollar.
Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.