Thursday, February 02, 2012

Democracy and social ethics...

The following is from Jane Addam's book published in 1902, Democracy and Social Ethics.
"The schools do so little really to interest the child in the life of production, or to excite his ambition in the line of industrial occupation, that the ideal of life, almost from the beginning, becomes not an absorbing interest in one's work and consciousness of its value and social relations but a desire for money with which unmeaning purchases may be made and an unmeaning social standing obtained."
Of workers in industries she said:
"It is doubtless true that dexterity of hand becomes less and less imperative as the invention of machinery and subdivision of labor proceeds; but it becomes all the more necessary, if the workman is to save his life at all, that he should get a sense of his individual relation to the system. Feeding a machine with a material of which he has no knowledge, producing a product, totally unrelated to the rest of his life, without in the least knowing what becomes of it, or its connection with the community, is of course, unquestionably deadening to his intellectual and moral life. To make the moral connection it would be necessary to give him a social consciousness of the value of his work, and at least a sense of participation and a certain joy in its ultimate use; to make the intellectual connection it would be essential to create in him some historic conception of the development of industry and the relation of his individual work to it."
In an address to the Western Drawing and Manual Training Association in Chicago in 1907 Addams said,
"It is upon you teachers of art and manual training that we must depend for help in this problem. It is you, and you only, that can develop influences that will bring to this army of wage-earners something of true social consciousness, something of joy and satisfaction in their work, something of stimulation toward a larger intellectual life."
Sadly, this vision was forgotten as the judgment was made that the most academically advanced need not become engaged in the manual arts. We proceeded to create classes of students and whole classes of economy estranged from hands-on productivity and capacity and isolated from the greater sense of meaning that can only come through the hands. There is a remedy. It is to take matters into our own hands...

NPR had a segment this afternoon on the changes in American manufacturing. Listen Here:  The Future of American Manufacturing Jobs. Unskilled labor need no longer apply. Modern manufacturing takes a mind well prepared in computer technology, as jobs often take no hand-skills at all but those of pushing buttons. However, the kinds of mental capacity made available by the manipulation of real materials may always be of value. Just as it is best to start children on languages when they are very young, it is also of crucial importance that children being thinking in 3 dimensions as early as possible. Making and manipulating real tools and materials will continue to be important. Get the picture?

The following is your invitation to my opening on February 10, 2012 at the Historic Arkansas Museum.
Clickto view at a larger size

Make, fix and create...

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