Monday, May 07, 2018

A centering vise for wheels and pens.

On Saturday, I used my tractor to pull the Clear Spring School float in the Artragious Art Parade. The Kubota has nice gears for pulling at slow speed. The jury is out on whether or not a Kubota offers sufficient COOL power. Normally floats are pulled by oversized pick-up trucks. I washed my tractor for the occasion.

Yesterday I made my Kindergarten presentation at the UU Fellowship and assembled a large KD reception desk at the Eureka Springs Community Center, in preparation for their opening day in June. What follows is just a bit of what I did not have time to cover in my Kindergarten presentation. In the early days kindergarten teachers were not just teachers. They were a special breed of teachers self-identified  as "Kindergartners."

Kindergartens began in the US as early as the 1850s, but the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition provided the opportunity for Kindergartners to show off their system of education to a nation hungry for reform. Nina C. Vandewalker described this in her book, The Kindergarten in American Education, 1908:
The Exposition kindergarten was conducted in an annex to the Woman's Pavilion, by Miss Ruth Burritt of Wisconsin, who had had several years of experience as a primary teacher before she became a kindergartner, and whose manner and insight were such as to gain adherents for the new cause. The enclosure for visitors was always crowded, many of the on-lookers being "hewers of wood and drawers of water, who were attracted by the sweet singing and were spellbound by the lovely spectacle." Thousands thronged to see the new educational departure, and many remained hours afterwards to ask questions.

The Exposition marked an epoch in the advancement of the kindergarten movement, as it marked an epoch in the history of elementary education. The ready acceptance of the kindergarten after the Philadelphia Exposition did not imply a recognition of its pedagogical value alone; in fact it is worthy of note that many of the kindergartens established at this period were philanthropic in their ultimate purpose. As the rapid growth of cities and the increasing immigration was fast developing the slum with its attendant evils, people were beginning to realize that some antidote must be found. The value of the kindergarten as a child-saving agency was at once recognized, and churches and philanthropic societies took up the movement.

The first charity kindergarten was opened in 1870 in the village of College Point, N.Y.; others were opened the same year in Cleveland, Ohio, and Florence, Mass. In speaking of this phase of kindergarten work in the Report of the Commissioner of Education, Miss Laura Fisher says : — "Centering among, and concerning itself with, the children of the poor, and having for its aim the elevation of the home, it was natural that the kindergarten as a philanthropic movement should win great and early favor. The mere fact that the children of the slums were kept off the streets, and that they were made clean and happy by kind and motherly young women; that the child thus being cared for enabled the mother to go about her work in or outside the home — all this appealed to the heart of America, and America gave freely to make these kindergartens possible. Churches established kindergartens, individuals endowed kindergartens, and associations were organized for the spread and support of kindergartens in nearly every large city."
Now Kindergarten's name has grown meaningless. Froebel is nearly forgotten. Educational policy makers continue to attempt to impose new schemes for control of learning directed toward measurable outcomes (through standardized testing) having to do with reading and math. The Kindergarten movement recognized the important role of mothers as the child's first teacher, and chose to empower children through music, through play, through exploratory devices that helped children to come to terms with their own creative capacities, and prepare them for lifelong learning.

Among the hewers of wood at the Exposition in 1876 was Frank Lloyd Wright's mother, Anna. As a teacher herself, she was captivated by the method and purchased Froebel blocks for her son. Here is what Frank Lloyd Wright remembered in his autobiography: "For several years I sat at the little Kindergarten table-top ... and played ... with the cube, the sphere and the triangle—these smooth wooden maple blocks ... All are in my fingers to this day ..."

With the weekend over I look forward to a relaxing time with the kids in wood shop. The photo shows my new vise for drilling pens and wheels. Clamped to the drill press table and centered beneath the drill chuck and bit, students can drill their own wheels or pens blanks, and quickly alternate between the two.

Make, fix, create, and adjust teaching methodology to allow for others to learn lifewise.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, a Kubota is a lot more cool than an oversized pick-up, but then again, I like small tractors.

    I really liked your idea of handing out balsa gliders instead of candy. It takes courage to do something that is not completely normal at a parade, and you can be sure that all people will remember who passed out those planes, but few will remember the names of those that passed out candy.