Friday, April 06, 2018

A room full of kites.

The photo shows first, second and third grade kites hanging for the glue to dry. Next week we will add bow strings, bridle strings, flying strings and tails and then run with them to see if they fly.

Today my 4th, 5th and 6th grade students will make slightly larger kites. I've prepared sticks and am offering large orange trash bags to form the skin. Some of my students have come up with their own plans for kites that they can test using materials I provide.

On Wednesday we had 7 students grades 1-3 making kites and 7 students grades 4-6 assisting.
Today 3 student returned from being absent. After they finished their kits, that left the classroom full.  Fortunately, the students put their name on the kites so they can be taken to the next level.

Imagine that we did this simple exercise with as any as 30 students in the class. Preparing the materials for each student to make his or her own kite would have been a larger task.
Even with the older kids to help and with only 10 kites being made the challenge was real.

Research has proven that smaller class sizes bring better educational outcomes. But school is often more about student management than about student learning. If we put student learning first, we would reduce class sizes, train more teachers to teach and insist that lessons be presented hands-on, doing real things. Music, the arts, scientific experimentation, field trips, travel school, camping, woodworking, outdoor studies, internships, service learning come to mind. Those are offered at the Clear Spring School. Smaller class sizes allow for teachers to better know the needs of each student and customize instruction to meet the needs of each and every child.

This is something that every politician and school administrator should know: Smaller class sizes and hands-on learning together make better learning. You can cheap out if you like. The consequences of going on as we haven with large classes and students required to sit passively while lessons are delivered are students who are disengaged, and teachers who are overwhelmed. Together those lead to failed education.

In the meantime, president Trump is jumping into a trade war with China. A problem we all face is that of being overloaded with cheap plastic stuff that pollutes the planet and removes the incentive  for making beautiful and lasting things ourselves. That was the same situation that the Scandinavians faced in the mid 1800s. Cheap imports were flooding the marketplace and destroying the incentive for Scandinavian people to exercise and develop craftsmanship on their own behalf. Unfortunately, our nation is obsessed with the question, where can I buy this cheap? Perhaps we would be just as happy without so much cheap stuff and could begin learning to make for ourselves.

In the Scandinavian countries in the mid 1800's the leaders in both the Lutheran Church and the governments began to understand the relationship between the exercise of craftsmanship and the intelligence and character of the people. We all need to be engaged in making beautiful and useful things.

Make, fix, create and increase the likelihood that others learn likewise.

No comments:

Post a Comment