Monday, November 07, 2016


I got a fine email from Richard Bazeley in Australia, blog reader and woodworking teacher, bringing up the importance of "connectivity" –– that what children learn in one subject area should connect them with what they had learned in others. Freidrich Froebel used the German term verbundenheit which has been translated as conscious connection or "connectedness." The following is from my new book Making Classic Toys that Teach.
The Third Principle: Connectedness
Froebel’s third principle was "connectedness." While one could focus attention on facts and things in isolation, those facts and things are also deeply connected through myriad means; the child, too, should learn to see himself or herself as a part of the larger unbound world. As outlined by Froebel in The Education of Man, “Education should be one connected whole, and should advance with an orderly and continuous growth—as orderly, continuous and natural as the growth of a plant.”
One thing that Froebel did not mention directly is where the connections should be made. There is a risk of creating contrived rather than discovered connections, when the teacher creates the connectiveness or connectedness and lays it before the child, rather than allowing the child to discover connections on his or her own. So connectedness should take place within the child, in relation to his or her own experience, not be purposely laid out as one more fact to be taken in that was laid out and arranged by teachers. Just as the artificial boundaries between fields of study make school studies artificial, artifice used to stitch fields of study back into an integrated whole, sustain a disconnection between the child and the real world.

I had three days of studio tour, which meant that I spent three days explaining my work, from both a technical and design perspective, and one of the points that I tried to make is that work must surprise, and thereby touch upon the sense of personal discovery that brings us to a state of educational preparedness in the form of physical, emotional an intellectual alert. (See Jerome Bruner's discussion of Effective Surprise.") It was good that my visitors were able to be surprised by various elements of my work before I offered explanation of effective surprise. The image above is a shape that Froebel called "the doll," that was left for the child to discover on his or her own through play with Gift number 2.

Throughout the literature by and about the teaching of Froebel's kindergarten, the doll receives no further mention or illustration, as it was to be deliberately left for the child to discover without the form of interference in learning we often call "instruction."

So the question must arise for each of us, "how do we make learning as natural as the opening of petals on a flower?"

The most simple  and precise answer is to:

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

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