Tuesday, October 23, 2018

gathering thoughts

I am gathering my thoughts for a presentation Thursday to the Eureka Springs Rotary club. I plan to show the Kindergarten documentary film trailer as a starting point. I also want to share the reason hands-on learning works. It's no secret.

There is a difference between long term and short term memory. Short term can be captured in the "drill and kill"  or "drill and spill" methodology used generally in public education. You read stuff, or have stuff presented to you by lecture. You try to memorize content. You kill it by regurgitating it in the testing process. Once spilled on paper or on a test it's lifeless and of no further use.

Hands-on learning requires you to be present in the full sense. Your body is there with a complex neural network providing feedback. It requires you to anchor what you are learning by comparing it to prior learning. It provides a use for what you learn, making it relevant in your own life, not for some future date by which time it will have been forgotten, but in the now.

I'm looking forward to the coming issue of Wooden Boat Magazine, the Nov. /Dec. 2018 issue. It will feature our students and Bevins Skiffs in the launchings section, but will also feature Joe Youcha's Building To Teach program as the cover story. Wooden Boat Magazine is one of the few publications that is willing to invest heavily in telling the story of hands-on learning and its importance as a means to reinvigorate education.

If you think of a boat safely anchored at harbor and facing a storm, a single anchor point is not enough. Common schooling as practiced currently in the US is not enough. It provides no anchors for subsequent learning. There's not enough neural network feedback to make what one learns meaningful, or relevant, or lasting in memory or usefulness.

While I'm gathering my thoughts, I urge you to gather thoughts of your own. Hands-on learning is not something new. Throughout modern times, educators and philosophers have recognized its value. Administrators and politicians have balked, preferring to cheap out.

Yesterday I heard an interview with Trump's son in law. He stated a law from the business world, that you can only control things that you can measure. Is that the point of our current educational methodology of standardized testing and standardized curriculum? If so, like dogs needing to know more of our world, we should be pulling  hard at the leash. Is education to be only a means of social control, or may it be allowed as an instrument of unleashing human capacity?

Yesterday in the wood shop at the Clear Spring School my upper elementary school students worked on their arched bridges. Lower elementary students worked on independent projects, and my middle school students worked on their little free library.

Today in my home shop I'll cut box lids to length to prepare them for laser engraving of a logo on the inside.

Make, fix and create...

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