Tuesday, July 01, 2008

An understanding of fundamental disconnect. Howard Gardner's Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences came out in 1993, and there is hardly an educator in the US who hasn't heard of the idea, and yet very little has been done to put a multiple intelligences approach in practice. Project Zero was started at Harvard to help guide the effort, but how many educators have even heard of it? When I was at the first International Conference on Sloyd, Traditions in Transition in UmeƄ, Sweden, one of the attendees asked me, "What university are you from?" "What would I learn there?" I asked in return. I told her I teach in an independent school where I learn about teaching by teaching and teach teachers by example.

Richard Bazeley sent me a report from the UK on the state of Technical and design education in that country. Education for a technologically advanced nation which can be found at www.ofsted.gov.uk If you can get through the immediate mind numbing effects, you might find something of value in it. There was one small school, sounding like my own Clear Spring School held up in the report as an example of success amidst far reaching national failure.

Every so often, things come down from on high, how schools should be adapted to new standards and toward new objectives and these reports are offered with the very best of intentions. But the way of the craftsman is that when you have an idea, rather than direct others, you cut wood, acting directly to see the potentials within your idea. Sometimes things work, and sometimes you go to plan b. In order to overcome disconnect between the halls of academia and where the rubber meets the road, it seems those who would like to have influence on the future of education would best consider the craftsman's approach. Test things in your own woodshop or classroom before you direct nations to perform to your beck and call. Lead by example rather than push by edict.

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