Saturday, December 26, 2009

to be taken by the hand

In the fall of 1992 when my daughter was 3 years old she started her first day at Clear Spring School. I was to take her to the preschool, spend some time with her, and then at some point, walk back to my truck and leave her in the company of teachers David and Lorraine, and the children aged 3-5. Parents all over the world face the same moment at some time with their kids. Some are reluctant to let go of mom or dad's hand and engage with other children in the new and somewhat strange surroundings. Lucy was clinging tight to my hand as we explored the building and the playground. As I would start to let go, Lucy's grip would tighten. David and Lorraine were busy with other children. I was beginning to feel uncomfortable, needing to let go, walk away and go on with my own day.

A young girl, Jasmine came up us to us. Jasmine is just a few months older than Lucy. "Jasmine, will you hold Lucy's hand?" I asked. Jasmine gently took Lucy's hand from mine, and led her off to play as I stood watching. Lucy didn't even look back. I was a bit choked up on the emotions of it all, and a bit relieved that I could go on with my day and that Lucy would be happy at Clear Spring School. She had a friend. By passing from hand to taken hand a transition had taken place and a point of growth had arrived.

And so it is with learning, transformation, regeneration of culture, society, education. The hands are inseparable from the human psyche, the human soul. We forget about them. We may be foolish enough to disparage them, their skill, their efforts in our quest to escape our own humanity. We may cherish the machines that displace their touch, and denigrate hands-on efforts as inefficient. But we are touched by them. The things they make touch us in ways that we cannot explain.

You might enjoy reading about the work of Lynn Balzer-Martin on Sensory Integration Disorder It is a syndrome that describes what happens when children are allowed to get out of touch. As parents get more deeply immersed in computers, the internet and gaming, allowing their children to enter virtual worlds unattended, I suspect we will see more. Some parents and teachers are helping to overcome sensory integration problems through hand-in-hand therapy, touch and (real) digital manipulation.

And so, we can each in turn, take the great role of Jasmine in things. Take someone by the hand. The wisdom of the hands is much greater than what I can express in this simple blog to my few readers. Now, go off to play and don't look back for a time until you need a reminder. I'll still be here tomorrow. Hands-on learning will be made central to education. It is inevitable. If you need a model of how it can be done, check out the Clear Spring School.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:27 AM

    I know how you feel. My "baby" is now 26 and engaged.