Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I was alerted this morning to an article by Pulitzer Prize winning author Chris Hedges "The Idiots Who Rule America" and I've written him to share a few thoughts about the human hand:

We have created an educational system in which we tell children what we want them to think, but the earliest educational theorist Comenius said, "boys like to DO things," and by tapping their most natural inclinations, their eager participation in education is assured.

Woodrow Wilson, when he was president of Princeton said the following:
"We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
Another thing of interest is the following from Finnish neurophysiologist Matti Bertström:
The density of nerve endings in our fingertips is enormous. Their discrimination is almost as good as that of our eyes. If we don't use our fingers, if in childhood and youth we become "finger-blind " this rich network of nerves is impoverished-which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual's all-around development. Such damage may be likened to blindness itself. Perhaps worse, while a blind person may simply not be able to find this or that object, the finger-blind cannot understand its inner meaning and value.

If we neglect to develop and train our children's fingers and the creative form building capacity of their hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers.

Those who shaped our age-old traditions always understood this. But today, Western civilization, an information-obsessed society that over values science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten it all. We are "value-damaged."
By isolating and separating the education of the hand from the education of the brain, we diminish all students. We create limits on some and lack of values in others.

I don't know if any of this will make sense to Chris, or what he can make of it, but the tragic circumstances we now face were put in place by the demands of early educators including Wilson, who were firmly rooted in Socrates disparagement of the hands, associating the work of the hands with dirt, filth, and failing to see the pleasures of creativity, and the moral instruction that arises most naturally in the making of things.

Yes, I will agree with Chris that idiots rule America but it is nothing new.

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