Monday, November 23, 2009


When we started the Wisdom of the Hands program in 2001, it was based on my observation that while most schools regarded woodworking as no longer relevant, in my own wood shop it was connected with everything, and thus could be used as an integrating connection between disciplines, through which everything could be made more relevant to the child. In modern times, the term educators use is "integrated" curriculum. It is like taking the two hands, eight fingers and thumbs and interlocking them in a single whole. In the early days, the term used was correlation, and it was based on a principle proposed by followers of Pestalozzi... that learning should move from the known to the unknown. We know that each distinct discipline is an artificial construct and thus the classification of groups of knowledge and interest is arbitrary, and the important thing is not how we divide classes and disciplines, but how experience becomes integrated in the mind of the child.

The assumption in modern schools is that the child will leap between disciplines just as one leaps between 50 minute classes, and that some completely mysterious process unknown to modern science will make necessary connections for the integration, storage, retrieval and later use of information. And so, I ask a simple question... "How much do you remember from your own education?"

And of course, we know the answer for many is "not much." Perhaps hypnosis would help, but that would put us even further to sleep.

We learn when we look back in history, that names may change and the terminology may differ, but there is very little new under the sun. As I began setting my own roots in sloyd and manual training, I found my own observations entwined like 8 fingers, and thumbs enmeshed in the simple concept of correlation.

It was observed by the earliest advocates of hands-on learning that exploring the physical properties of material and making the effort to create objects expressing beauty and value pulled together the full range of disciplines into a single working intellectual framework that anchored information through actual sensory experience and allowed and inspired the child to express learning through personal creativity.

And so, that is what we attempt to accomplish in the Clear Spring School wood shop and what was once referred to by the term "correlation."

1 comment:

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