Wednesday, February 17, 2010

habits, Hobbits and dragons

Today in the CSS wood shop, students in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades will be making wooden hobbits. I've never made one before, but will be showing how. The students will be going to a performance in two weeks of Tolkien's "the Hobbit" in which giant puppets will play the various parts. Now that they have a puppet theater in their classroom, their teacher asked that they be able to make their own hobbits. It may take two weeks to finish, but I'll have more to show later in the day. Creative response to learning can become a habit. And why should what we learn not lead habitually to physical, creative response? If it doesn't we are on the path toward becoming complaisant consumers instead of creatively aligned human beings.

I spent the night tossing and turning, dreaming in the abstract, wrestling with dragons just beyond my naming range. There are things we know, or know of, that defy our capacity to name and verbally comprehend. And so, I'll not disparage verbal/linguistic thought, but will remind my readers that there is much more. To be creatively engaged requires us to move beyond what can be stated in words, and to express things physically and emotionally that cannot be adequately addressed in words alone. These are the things Dragons are made of.

And so, the question arises, Are schools only for learning those things that can be placed in lecture notes and spoken in class to minds most likely engaged in wanderings of their own? Or are schools places in which we become engaged in wrestling with dragons?

You may recall the dragon in the Hobbit that Bilbo Baggins meets in his travels. I'll leave the making of an actual puppet dragon to the kids and their teacher. I have a dragon of my own to contend with. How can I explain what to most modern American educators is unworthy of explanation? The significance of their hands. Make, garden, create, fix, sew, inspire, teach with care, nurse, tend, cook... do one of those this day, and you will be engaging in the wisdom of the hands. Watch carefully as you do these things and some degree of joy will arise. Share what you have learned with others.

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