Saturday, February 03, 2018

just in case

In case you haven't noticed, there is a difference between schooling where you sit in a lecture hall, listening to a professor go on and on on some subject, and actual life which is infused with sensory information. Human beings are multi-sensory. We have arms, legs, hands, eyes, ears and bodies, that crave engagement in the real world, and schooling, rather than isolating us from the real world, could instead be designed to assist in multi-sensory engagement to simultaneously meet all learning styles for all students.

Howard Gardner maintained that we learn in a variety of styles engaging various senses, and that most of us lean upon one sense more than others. Gardner identified these as being particular "intelligences." Followers of Howard Gardner have attempted to follow a check list of learning styles to make sure that student needs are met. That forces the teacher to develop strategies that tend to feel artificial or contrived. Far simpler is to just do real things. When you work in a wood shop, all the senses are engaged, so let us use that as our example. You walk in the shop at Clear Spring School and first you smell wood. Then the rest of the senses fall into useful place, assuring the student of the reality of schooling and his or her reality in the educational process.

Schools can become places of engagement and creativity, and the whole world needs that to happen.

Small towns (and small neighborhoods) in the US have suffered from a strategy of extraction, through which the best and brightest students (measured by academic standards) are extracted and removed to a system of universities so that their talents can standardized and be hauled away. That may appear to be a good thing for the students involved, but is not so good for the communities involved. Having the opportunity for students to use the Eureka Springs School of the Arts as a degree pathway as we plan, will be a wonderful way to meet learning needs at home. It may also serve as an example of what all schools must become... places in which student's lives are shaped by doing real things in service to community.

Yesterday in Little Rock I was part of a panel to select the 2018 Arkansas Living Treasure, an award from the Arkansas Arts Council that I was selected to receive in 2009. The award is granted on the basis of artistic merit, and service toward the perpetuation of traditional crafts, using a system of assigned points. We arrived at a unanimous decision that will be announced a bit later in the year.

Make, fix, create, and assist others in learning likewise.

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