Wednesday, November 08, 2017

How kind communities teach children

Progressive education (like what we practice at the Clear Spring School) traces its roots to  Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. By "progressive" I do not mean the next new thing (as in progress) but rather a system of education in which the life and learning of the child was to unfold incrementally in a natural way and without being forced. Pestalozzi's contributions to progressivism were expressed through a number of failed schools, each of which attempted to serve the poor, and a book that he wrote called "How Gertrude Teaches Her Children." It's a worthwhile book to read even today, as it lays out what we still face, the dichotomy between an authoritarian structure and a natural unfolding based on love and respect within a community.

Pestalozzi's Gertrude was a young mother who gathered her own children and some of her neighbor's  children into her home and provided instruction all the while she worked at her craft, that of spinning and weaving. The transference of learning took place in a gentle atmosphere of absolute love in which Gertrude and the older children provided lessons a completely natural setting doing real things of real value.

Pestalozzi’s ideas are reflected in the following:
  • Particular attention paid to the interests and needs of the child
  • A child-centered rather than teacher-centered approach to teaching
  • Active rather than passive participation in the learning experience
  • The freedom of the child based on his or her natural development balanced with the self-discipline to function well as an individual and in society
  • The child having direct experience of the world and the use of natural objects in teaching
  • The use of the senses in training pupils in observation and judgement
  • Cooperation between the school and the home and between parents and teachers
  • The importance of an all-round education – an education of the head, the heart and the hands, but which is led by the heart
  • The use of systemized subjects of instruction, which are also carefully graduated and illustrated
  • Learning which is cross-curricular and includes a varied school life
  • Education which puts emphasis on how things are taught as well as what is taught
  • Authority based on love, not fear
  • Teacher training
A good place to read about Pestalozzi is here:

If someone wants to know why Finnish Schools beat the pants off American Schools in international testing, I suggest that Finland's adherence to the ideals set forth by Pestalozzi holds the answer.

Yesterday, I scarf joined pieces of plywood for building Bevins Skiffs using epoxy glue. The photo shows scarfing of the wide bottom pieces.

Make, fix and create...

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