Saturday, January 28, 2017

A+ Fellows

Last night I was asked to introduce myself at a meeting of A+ Schools Fellows. I had been invited to their meeting to learn more about them and to consider ways I might help. What a fine group of enthusiastic teachers! Last night we began learning to use dance as a means of active classroom learning. Just as woodworking is potentially connected to all of life, dance too can be a means to bridge the gap between the artificialized classroom environment and students' needs to be engaged in real life. Dance also has the advantages of not requiring tools, being safe, and allowing the students to move beyond desktop learning.

The real point is simple. Make learning real.

Woodworking can be one means to do that. Laboratory science another. And dance yet another. The arts, music, gardening, the care of small animals, field trips, internships, travel, and the manipulation of tactile objects all lift the school environment out of artificiality and supercharge learning. All of these fall under the category, "hands-on," and where the hands are engaged, the heart follows.

In Matthew Crawford's books, Shop Class as Soulcraft, and the World Beyond Your Head, each place heavy emphasis on a quote from this blog.
In schools we create artificial learning environments for our children that they know to be contrived and undeserving of their full attention and engagement… Without the opportunity to learn through the hands, the world remains abstract, and distant, and the passions for learning will not be engaged. --Wisdom of the Hands blog post of October 16, 2006
I have an all day meeting with A+ Fellows and will resume my discussion of woodworking tools, processes and projects when I am home in Eureka Springs.

In the photo above, my 3rd grade student had made a doll house for his sister and then decided he needed to make a chair for it. It became larger than he first intended, and he spent much of the remaining part of the classroom period working through failures in the attachment of legs. I could have stepped in and interfered with his discovery process, but would have robbed him of an important and memorable learning experience.

Make, fix, create, and assist others to learn likewise.

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