Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Happy birthday Mr. Comenius

John Amos Comenius, was born on this date in 1592 and was considered the father of modern pedagogy (the science of education). He observed:
"Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them."
What better play can we find for either boys or girls, than the activities found in woodshops? The most important point buried in Comenius' quote is the phrase, "now as this is very useful, it ought not be restrained." And the point is that our best leverage on boys learning is to make use of their most natural inclinations. We can say the same for girls as well. There's a saying that you can't push a rope. You can pull one to very great effect. By ignoring the nature of the child, we create education that is destructive, ineffective and least efficient. But if we were to use their natural inclinations to our best advantage, schooling would become efficient, effective and undamaging. If a great teacher in the 16-17th centuries could understand children so clearly, and if subsequent educational leaders like Pestalozzi, Froebel, Comenius, Salomon and Dewey understood children so well, why has education fallen so far off track?

Admittedly, having children do real things in service to their families and communities requires having smaller classes, more teachers and greater preparation than having large number of students sit idly at desks while lessons are administered. And so we have schools where the primary objective has become classroom management rather than learning and development. And now, according to president trump and folks from the NRA, classroom management should include ready access to a gun.

I have another new tool to be used teaching woodworking to kids. Anyone with experience woodworking with kids and the tiny nails required will know that nails get spilled and wasted, and it takes time to pick them up. The small square of  cherry, as shown in the photo, has rare a earth magnet embedded in the surface and provides an easy means to supply the necessary nails  for a project. Since my students like working in close proximity to each other, one magnetic block can be shared between two students.

Make, fix, create, and adjust schooling so that students learn lifewise.

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