Monday, December 14, 2009


My webinar did not go as well as I would have liked today. There were some technical problems on the site, and then I had far too much information prepared for the amount of time available. The problem is that the hands touch everything, and to give a clear picture of how and why to engage them in schools is a very large subject that I should have whittled down into a smaller bite. One thing is strange about the webinar format. When I speak in public, I have the opportunity to gauge audience response. I can see how people respond to what I share with them. The webinar leaves one wondering whether connections have been made, and how what one has offered has been received.
I look forward to feedback if any of my regular readers were in attendance and have any comments or criticisms to offer.

One other thing is that educators are looking for answers and what I have at best, is a set of questions. How can we better engage children's hands in learning? We have a strategy at Clear Spring School, and have a rationale for it that may or may not seem relevant to others. But I feel that here in the blog, you, my readers and I, have a shared understanding that we learn best and most effectively and with the greatest retention when we learn through hands-on creative processes. How to redesign our schools to make best use of the natural inclinations of children to learn, play and create is a question I raise that I hope receives further thought.


  1. Anonymous7:32 PM


    Practice makes better, and your experience with the webinar will teach you that new medium. Wish I could have joined you.


  2. I will post a link where it can be downloaded for viewing at your leisure.

  3. I was hoping to listen but couldn't get away. Are you affiliated with Waldorf Schools? I am just finding out about them and am very interested in their philosophy but have some reservations about some of what I have read.

  4. No, we are not a Waldorf School. Clear Spring School has one Waldorf trained teacher, and one Montessori trained teacher, and others trained in more traditional methods. So, we, I think, are able to use the best of each as it applies to our students. And our teachers have greater opportunity for personal creativity than any one set method would allow.

    Check back, as a link to a download of the webinar will be made available later.

  5. Sorry, I will not be able to view your webinar due to computer problems. However, it came to mind as I read your post, I am learning visually, my hands performing only required mechanical movements to scroll and the like. This brings me to an interesting quiestion.

    How many blind students do you have or have you had in your program? There are many types of learning, each best when used within its proper area. I sometimes feel you over-promote using the hands to the detriment of what you wish to demonstrate.

    Do you think it is possible, over time, to promote the importance of using the hands to create and learn, without unintentionally demeaning other, perhaps over-used methods of learning and training the young mind?

    Finally, I notice my computer-game playing nephew, who uses his hands to play computer games--no, not the best use for hands--seems to maintain his focus and interest, because computer games offer rewards (higher scores) and challenges, which give immediate feedback and self-esteem for the player. Something most employers and schools should learn, when it comes to developing employees and students.

    I get the feeling, if you asked your students, that is two things you offer them in your school. Without either, they would soon lose interest. Maybe that is more important than using the hands.

  6. I have corresponded with a blind box maker who has some very interesting hand-on techniques that would benefit sighted woodworkers. I have featured some of his work in the blog before. Type in Dave in the search block. I believe his name and work will turn up. No, I haven't had a blind student, but as you know from Helen Keller, the hands are one of the best ways that the blind gain a sense of who and where and what they are. There are woodworking programs specifically structured for the blind. The hands do a pretty good job of acting as substitute for the other senses when they are impaired.

  7. Hi Doug,

    As you can see, I'm still catching up on blog posts... I wanted to affirm your comments regarding the disorienting effects of online learning for a teacher. I previously worked as a trainer for a telecommunications company and in order to cut costs was asked to train field technicians about wiring and technology using a web tool called webex. It was bizarre to teach disembodied voices and I resolved only to participate in online teaching when under duress or if there was a group that wouldn't otherwise receive any instruction.

    Jeremy Kidwell