Sunday, December 24, 2017

the necessity of hands-on learning

Rousseau had said, put a young man in a wood shop, he will become a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman. A touch of humility (conveyed by the struggle to attain quality craftsmanship in the face of inevitable human error) would serve all philosophers well. In my case (and in the case of many others), the phrase rings true. While my hands do routine tasks that require only part of my attention, I think about the state of the nation, the state of education and what I need to tell my readers (or myself) about learning and the meaning of life.

In light of this I came up with a brief list of occupations that require hands-on learning and you are welcome to suggest others to add to my list. While some may suppose hand work (even when well rehearsed) to be mindless, it is not.
  1. Surgeon
  2. Contractor
  3. Chemist
  4. Carpenter
  5. Plumber
  6. Inventor
  7. Chef
  8. Entrepreneur
  9. Homemaker
  10. Designer
  11. Artist
  12. Architect
  13. Musician
  14. Playwright
  15. Actor
  16. Teacher
  17. Athlete
  18. Doctor
  19. Engineer
  20. Manufacturer
  21. Craftsman
  22. Electrician
  23. Mechanic
  24. Dentist
I can go on. Are there any in the list who are not necessary to the quality of life we enjoy? Are there any in this list that are unnecessary to our economy? And now I'll go on to list a few that you may have assumed are unrelated to hands-on learning, but even these, for the sake of society at large would best be educated hands-on.
  1. Philosopher (Have I not proven that philosophy and the hands are related?)
  2. Poet (Where do you think poets get their metaphors if not from the hands and the reality that the hands embrace?)
  3. Composer (Where did he get his knowledge of instruments? Was it only from the music in as an abstract form?)
  4. Psychologist (would we not hope he or she would understand that the hands and mind work in harmony in a healthy man, woman or child?)
  5. Pastor, prophet or priest (How do you relate successfully to your parishioners if you are literally out of touch?) (St. Paul was a tent maker, Christ a carpenter.)
  6. Political pundit (Don't we wish more of them were less out of touch?)
  7. Politician (Don't we wish more of them were less out of touch?)
  8. Scientist (Are you kidding? Can you imagine a real scientist who has not been deeply engaged in learning through his or her hands? How would he or she ascertain the validity of observations without having started with the hands?)
  9. Lawyer (I've met many who have woodworking as their hobby. It helps to ease their isolation from reality.)
  10. Accountant (see Lawyer.)
  11. Human resources manager. (Don't we wish THEY, too, were more in touch?) 
  12. Author (Aren't their books more engaging and rewarding when they appear to be based on real life?) 
Given this list, would it not make sense to place the hands at the center of American education? To leave the hands untrained, sequesters our children from realizing their full capacities of mind, hand and creativity.

This is Christmas eve, the very last making day before Christmas. May your own joyous holidays bring peace of heart, mind and hand.

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