Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I am working in my own shop for the last few days before school meetings launch me into a new year. I have orders to fill and galleries that will be needing work for the Holiday season. That work may keep my mind off the blog for awhile, so dig into the archives if you are needing more to keep you thinking.

In the meantime, here is some more from Charles Henry Ham's book, Mind and Hand...

(The Ideal School) is the embodiment of Bacon's
aphorism— "Education is the cultivation of a just and legitimate
familiarity betwixt the mind and things." The students draw pictures of
things, and then fashion them into things at the forge, the bench, and
the turning-lathe; not mainly that they may enter machine-shops, and
with greater facility make similar things, but that they may become
stronger intellectually and morally; that they may attain a wider range
of mental vision, a more varied power of expression, and so be better
able to solve the problems of life when they shall enter upon the stage
of practical activity. It is a theory of this school that in the
processes of education the idea should never be isolated from the
object it represents (1) because the idea, being the reflex
perception or shadow of the object, is less clearly defined than the
object itself, and (2) because joining the object and the idea
intensifies the impression. Separated from its object the idea is
unreal, a phantasm. The object is the flesh, blood, bones, and nerves
of the idea. Without its body the idea is as impotent as the jet of
steam that rises from the surface of boiling water and loses itself in
the air. But unite it to its object and it becomes the vital spark, the
animating force, the Promethean fire. Thus steam converts the Corliss
engine—a huge mass of lifeless iron — into a thing of grace, of beauty,
and of resistless power. Suppose the teacher, for example, desires to
convey to the mind of a child having no knowledge of form an impression
of the shape of the earth; he says, " It is globular." The child's face
expresses nothing because there is in its mind no conception of the
object represented by the word globular. The teacher says, " It is a
sphere," with no better success. He adds, " A sphere is a body bounded
by a surface, every point of which is equally distant from a point
within called the center." The child's face is still expressionless.
The teacher takes a handful of moist clay and molds it into the form
of a sphere, and exhibiting it, says, " The earth is like this." The
child claps its hands, utters a cry of delight, and exclaims, " It is
round like a ball!" This is an illustration of the triumph of
object-teaching, the method alike of the kindergarten and the manual
training school. As the child is father of the man, so the kindergarten
is father of the manual training school. The kindergarten comes first
in the order of development, and leads logically to the manual training
school. The same principle underlies both. In both it is sought to
generate power by dealing with things in connection with ideas. Both
have common methods of instruction, and they should be adapted to the
whole period of school life, and applied to all schools. The Ideal
school, most precisely representative of the present age—the age of
science—is dedicated to a homogeneous system of mental and manual
training, to the generation of power, to the development of true
manhood. And above all, this school is destined to unite in
indissoluble bonds science and art, and so to confer upon labor the
highest and justest dignity—that of doing and responsibility.

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