Friday, April 28, 2017

Open house at the Clear Spring School...

I am preparing for an open house at the Clear Spring School, tomorrow Saturday, April 29. You may come by to see the wood shop where my students work. On Sunday, April 30, we will hold a Wisdom of the Hands fundraising event.

Yesterday the electricians were busy at the new ESSA wood shop, finishing the wiring. The carpenters are installing the wood paneling on the inside of the building, and we moved a SawStop table saw from storage into the building, the first piece of woodworking equipment to arrive on site. Sheet rock in the entry hall will be installed today. Work benches will arrive this coming week. And volunteers will begin preparing the shop for classes. Next week we will begin ordering new equipment and building various benches and router tables, using some of the materials we've been able to salvage from the construction process.

May will be a busy month. With the end of the school year at Clear Spring School, and the opening of the new ESSA wood shop, I also have May Fine Arts Month to take some of my time. In addition to all that, my box guitar book is in the editorial process which means I'll likely have many questions to answer. But this is not a complaint.

Our love affair with the computer has thrown everything out of whack. As the starting tool in so many young lives, the computer in all its forms is incredibly complex and abstract, is intended to make easy, and kids are learning to “do” things on it long before they know anything about a hammer or a knife. I put “do” in quotation marks because they give the appearance of doing things whereas most of the “doing” apparent on the screen was pre-engineered by software specialists to give the parents the sense that their children are “creative,” and the child the sense that they are in control. So the Educational sloyd principle of starting with the known and moving to the unknown requires us to rethink schooling. How do we start kids out on the computer and move them into real concrete studies and real results that offer meaning to family, community and self? It is rather perplexing. And many young parents and teacher will likely have difficulties reaching into the unfamiliar terrain of hands-on learning.

Change can be made to come, however. While all the powers that be are trying to revolutionize education by putting more testing and top down control in place, we need to cut loose and put all learning back into the hands of kids.

Teachers should be commanded to examine their own learning to assess what role their own hands had played in it and then be assessed on their effectiveness at putting their student’s hands at work in service to their learning.

Make, fix, create, and increase the likelihood of others learning likewise.

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