Friday, January 01, 2010

If we watch kids at play...

You can follow the long line of educators back from Elliot Eisner, Maria Montessori, Rudolf Steiner, John Dewey, Otto Salomon, Uno Cygnaeus, Friedrich Froebel, John Henry Pestalozzi, Jean Jacques Rousseau, John Locke, Johan Amos Comenius, and Francis Bacon, and you will find a common thread. In the works of each of these educators and theorists, children were observed at play and in the act of learning, and education was proposed to take best advantage of their natural inclinations. Each was reacting to a system struggling to go against the flow, expending energies for naught, and offering the suggestion of going with the natural flow and progression of a child's life.

And yet, we decided to create schools through which to stifle children's natural inclinations. If they can't sit still as required, we administer drugs. Can you see the violence in this? We create generations of clock watchers, those waiting for escape. Can you see the violence in that? Perhaps violence will be regarded by some as too strong and offensive a term. Let me work from the other direction. Is there love in what we insist of our children as we send them into regimented classrooms in which their most natural rhythms and inclinations are restrained until after the bell?

I am just a woodworking teacher in Arkansas, and yet, in what I propose, I stand on the shoulders of the giants of education, and there is room here on the foundation of progressive education for you to stand with me.

Happy twenty ten. It is a new year and we are advocates for change.


  1. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Count me in.


  2. Anonymous12:37 PM

    I stand with you.

  3. I am a trained Montessorian, and this post rings SO TRUE and when I think of these things it almost makes me want to just homeschool my kid (he's almost 2, want him to go to Montessori preschool but not sure we'll have the money or good available schools to continue past then). The way we run our public schools is a travesty.