Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Torsten Rudenschöld

Today the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students at CSS made Sloyd Trivets, inspired by Educational Sloyd. We also had a visit from Ed Miller whose project, Defending the Early Years, promotes play, and normal development for our nation's children. Ed is a friend of my friend, Frank Wilson, author of the Hand, How its use shapes the brain, language and human culture, so we had a lot to share with each other. Ed had planned to be with us for a kid's class and he, too got to work with wood.

The work of Uno Cygnaeus and Otto Salomon in conceiving, refining and promoting Educational Sloyd, was laid on a foundation built by others. One who I've neglected previously in the blog was Torsten Rudenschöld the founder of the Swedish Folk Schools (1862). The best place to read about Rudenschöld is this paper published by Unesco, Torsten Rudenschöld by Gunnar Richardson. Rudenschöld had written in 1856,
"It is becoming more and more universally acknowledged, that in the elementary school the children are overburdened with continual reading lessons, which they have not had sufficient time to digest, and the result of which is a valueless memory knowledge. That the mind and the body are to be developed at the same time, is gradually coming to be more and more understood... we do not propose to make mechanics or physical workers of all our children; yet no one can tell the future of his child. In real life, everything rests upon an uncertain and ever changing basis... "
"Children of the best families, no matter how high their social position may be, will receive much benefit from an early training in physical work, as we constantly hear the complaint that they are too weak, and seek only the pleasures of life and its expensive diversions. They will learn for themselves that in corporal work there is more true satisfaction, and will prefer it as a refreshing pastime."
Rudenschöld was a member of the Swedish nobility, a count. His grandfather had been a cabinet minister and his father a chamberlain to the king. He died before Otto Salomon became directly involved in promoting Educational Sloyd, but had been a correspondent of Uno Cygnaeus as he began planning the Finnish Folk Schools and inventing Sloyd as an educational method for all children.

One of the things that Ed and I discussed today, is that while technology has changed dramatically, the patterns and sequences of child development have not. It is worthwhile considering the observations of early educators, even as far back as the 17th century, as most of their observations will be as true today as they were then.

The photos show today's "students" at work...

Make, fix and create...

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