Wednesday, December 23, 2009

when the hands become central

We all know that the hands literally touch every facet of human culture. We have left our mark on the planet in what we have made, and through the tools we have crafted, and if we were to come to terms with the central role that the hands play in our lives by placing them at the center of our interest in education, interesting things would unfold.

A very simple starting point would be the following from a paper by Jordan, Kaplan, Ramineni & Locuniak Development of number combination skill in the early school years: When do fingers help?:
Finger use for math calculation is natural and intuitive. Fingers are readily available and well suited to our base-10 number system. However, many teachers and parents question the value and appropriateness of finger use in elementary school, even though most contemporary math curricula encourage concrete representation and manipulation of quantities. ...Our findings suggest that in kindergarten children should be encouraged, or even explicitly taught, to use their fingers.
And so, if we want to re-energize American education we need to develop specific strategies to systematically re-engage our children's hands in learning. An effective part of that strategy is Wood shop!

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