|Using toothpicks to attach the bottom of a Shaker box|
This takes me, again, back to 19th century educational sloyd. The principles, I repeat once again in the hopes they may become yet more clear: Start with the interests of the child. Move in necessary increments from the known to the unknown, from the easy to the more difficult, from the simple to the complex, and from the concrete to the abstract.
Planning the move from the easy to the more difficult is easy. Starting with the interests of the child, in a complex culture is not so easy, in that even in a small class of first graders interests and level of prior experience will vary to a great degree. So starting with the interest to the child requires that the child's interests be known and allowed for in the PLANNING of school activities. If planning instead, is done on the state level or federal level, where is the necessary skill and sensitivity in that?
Moving from the known to the unknown can also be problematic, in that some students will arrive on their first day of school, having had interests and supportive experiences far beyond, or far less than their classmates. Some students will arrive at school intent on scholarly success, driven by parental expectations, and some will not.
Moving from the simple to the complex is relatively easy, as it is always easy to make simple matters more complex, but to make that movement in such a manner as the complex is made simple and clear to serve as a foundation for the next level of complexity, is not a thing to be crammed through without careful personal assessment of the comprehension level and interest level of each child.
So here we come to the most important point, moving in increments from the concrete to the abstract. This is not to say that the concrete should in any way or at any point be moved away from, but that it should infect every branch and every level of learning.
So, to bring things home, I want to make planning for student success simple enough for any teacher or any educational policy maker to understand. When it comes to schooling, make it real, and insist that what you offer is meaningful to the student.
In tomorrow's post, I'll address making it real and keeping it meaningful. And yes, woodworking in schools has an important role to play in educational success.
Make, fix, create, and increase through your example, the likelihood that others will be inspired to learn likewise.