Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kenntnis first...

This morning I have my last day of Carl Jung study group, based on reading his Red Book. There are two forms of knowledge, that which is imparted by others, and that which is discovered from one's own experience. In German, the term wissenschaft describes that which is learned from books or consists of knowledge imparted and interpreted by others. Kenntnis is the term used to describe what is learned from one's own experience, hands-on, so to speak. Wissenschaft and Kenntnis are not terms related to Jung, but are in a way related to my own study of Jung. My first reading was nearly useless to me. Then after spending more time in my own examination of his principles as they apply to my own life, my readings of the Red Book have become easier and more useful to me.

It is worthwhile exploring these two forms of knowledge and to come to an understanding of the relationship between them. I have written about this before in the blog here: Wissenschaft and Kenntnis.

In my own learning, I need experience first, which means that after I have examined a few things though my own hands to establish their relevance, I am better able to enter the abstract realm presented by wissenschaft. In schools we proceed backwards, with the students finally able to apply kenntnis when they leave formal schooling. So much for the forgotten principles from Educational Sloyd:

Start with the interests of the child.
Proceed from the known to the unknown.
Move in increments from the easy to the more difficult.
Move from the simple to the more complex.
Proceed from the concrete to the abstract.

Do you remember in college, being bogged down in abstract theories before getting to explore the realities of the subject materials? The complication resulting from reversing the order is that students become disengaged from learning, see no relevance to what they are learning in school, and drop out before realizing their full intellectual capacities. Those things that are learned hands-on, are learned at greater depth, carry a sense of application, are understood as relevant, and are learned to greater lasting effect. It is the great idiocy of American education that we fail to put wissenschaft and kenntnis in their proper order.

Construct the foundation for studies first.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Looking at the Sloyd progression of learning I am struck that most attempts at teaching seem to take the exact opposite track - beginning with abstractions and somehow trying to follow them back to interests.

    What's the key to reversing this? Is it simply in the way that things are presented or is there some more fundamental change?

  2. My proposed strategy for reversing this is to pay attention to the hands. Direct hands-on learning is the key. Assess teachers, challenge teachers for putting the hands-first. The hands are the direct connection with engagement. What we see and are interested in, we have the inclination to touch. Where the touch is restricted, engagement is altered.

    I think you can see that Sloyd was not just a means of working with wood, but also a strategy for all of education. That is its genius.