Sunday, July 24, 2011

The ideal school, 2

This is from Charles H. Ham, Mind and Hand, 1880:
The Ideal School is an institution which develops and trains to usefulness the moral, physical, and intellectual powers of man. It is what Comenius called Humanity's workshop, and in America it is becoming the natural center of the Public School system. The building, well-designed for its occupancy, is large, airy, open to the light on every side, amply provided with all appliances, requisite for instruction in the arts and sciences, and finished interiorly and exteriorly in the highest style of use and beautiful architectural effects. The distinguishing characteristic of the Ideal School Building is its chimney, which rises far above the roof, from whose tall stack, a column of smoke issues, and the hum and whir of machinery is heard, and the heavy thud of the sledge hammer resounding on the anvil, smites the ear.

It is then, a factory rather than a school?

No. It is a school; the school of the future; the school that is to dignify labor; the school that is to generate power; the school where every sound contributes to the harmony of development, where the brain informs the muscle, where thought directs every blow, where the mind, the eye, and the hand constitute an invincible triple alliance. This is the school that Locke dreamed of , that Bacon wished for, that Rousseau described, and that Comenius, Pestalozzi, and Froebel struggled in vain to establish.

It is then, science and the arts in apotheosis. For it be, as claimed, the Ideal School, it is destined to lift the veil from the face of Nature, to reveal her most precious secrets, and to divert to man's use all her treasures.

Yes; it is to other schools what the diamond is to other precious stones--the last analysis of educational thought. It is the philosopher's stone in education; the incarnated dream of the alchemist, which dissolved earth, air, and water into their original elements, and recombined them to compass man's immortality.
The illustration above is from Ham's book, showing the Carpenter's "Laboratory." Laboratory c.1600, "building set apart for scientific experiments," from M.L. laboratorium "a place for labor or work," from L. laboratus, pp. of laborare "to work" and the like. And so you can see that in the ideal school, work, and the exploration of physical reality are united.

Tomorrow my ESSA class on Creative Box Making starts in the Clear Spring School Woodworking "Laboratory," meaning a place where you engage the real world through hands on learning. My class is full at 8 craftsmen, and I will be posting photos in the coming week of what I hope will be learning at its very best.

Make, fix and create

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