Friday, December 16, 2016

An important thing.

Early advocates of manual arts training insisted upon its potential to build the character, integrity and intelligence of a nation and its people. Now we are on the edge of a massive failure in our democratic experiment, due at least in part to a failure in our public education. Where were the manual arts when they were most needed in our nation?

When children learn through their hands, they build a relationship with investigative principles that  serve as a foundation for adult learning. It may come as no surprise to some that Donald Trump would be elected by a very small majority in the electoral college, based on support by those Donal Trump referred to as the "uneducated," "whom he dearly loved." Those persons were trained to believe in right and wrong answers rather than to observe for themselves. Those persons were taught that their opinions mattered over all else, and they were entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, that did not require being tested and proved. These persons, were avid consumers of fake news on Facebook, ready to believe anything they were told. These persons are likely to continue to be malleable in hands of despots.

So we went through an election in which fake news was not only dispersed, it was believed. We went through an election in which a foreign power (Russia) took part to assure their preferred candidate won. That should be considered an act of war against democratic principles.

We are nearing a point of crisis in America. Does the existing, legitimately elected President of the USA turn over power to an illegitimately elected moron, who does not believe in science, believes only in his own power and inflated sense of importance, who was elected by lying, and through malicious interference by a foreign power?

We have arrived at a time in American culture that was predicted by Mr. Charles B. Gilbert, Superintendent of the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools when he spoke about the danger of sacrificing our democracy on the division between academic work and skilled hand work in the 1905 meeting of the Eastern Manual Training Association:
The great function of all public schools, afterall, is not to give specific knowledge or fit for specific things, but to train democratic citizens. The attitude of the teacher toward manual training has very much to do with the democracy of the teacher. Any sort of separation of children into classes intended to go for all time through their lives is exactly antagonistic to democracy--could not be more directly antagonistic; it is the antipode of democracy... What is the great foe of democracy at all times? It is the building up of walls--permanent walls--between classes; is it not? So long as wealth disappears with a single generation or two generations there is not any great danger; but when we get into the position--condition (If we ever do)--that many of the countries of the world are in; if a child is born with the feeling that he is born in a class--that there is a great gulf or a high wall between him and his neighbor who is born in a different class; then democracy is dead.
Unfortunately American schooling does little to create a sense of the dignity of craftsmanship. But there are answers to be found within. Craftsmanship is the foundation of human culture and of democracy. One cannot be a creative and successful craftsman without being intellectually engaged. One cannot be a craftsman without being true to particular values that uplift the community in which craftsmanship is nurtured and takes place. Unlike American politicians who spew small lies and exaggerations right and left with every breath, a craftsman must be true to his materials, his design and to himself.

Now as a further cause for outrage against both Trump and Russian Hackers, Trump is claiming that the Russian Hackers did Americans a favor by interfering in the American Presidential Election. I am not sure how Americans can get out of this mess. But is it the sign of patriotism or treason to welcome  foreign hackers set in motion by a foreign power to disrupt the American democratic process?

Make, fix, create, and insure we thus survive that others may learn likewise.

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