Thursday, April 19, 2012


Today in the CSS woodshop, first, second and third grade students made boomerangs. They were reluctant to leave them at the end of class, but the glue was drying and they will be delivered to them on Monday to paint in an aboriginal style. My boomerang plan is shown above. Not shown is the amount of sanding required to make it really work. Kids don't really have the patience for the shaping required to make it really come back.

Susan E. Blow, one of the pioneers in the Kindergarten movement in the US noted (1898)
"... to continue to fill the child's mind with foreign material, under the gratuitous assumption that at a later age he will be able, through some magic transubstantiation, to make it a vital part of his own thought... is like loading his stomach with food which he can not digest, under the delusive hope that he may be able to digest it when he becomes a man. It is forcing the mind to move painfully forward under a heavy weight, instead of running, leaping and flying under the incitement of its own energy and the allurement of its own perceived ideal.

"Thus to load the young mind is a grievous sin; but we commit a yet more heinous offense when we insist upon the exercise of faculties whose normal development belongs to a later age. The child is sympathetic, perceptive, and imaginative, but he is incapable of sustained observation and repelled by analysis and logical inference. The very flowers he loves so dearly become more instruments of mental torture when we constantly insist upon his analyzing and classifying them. The attempt to force a premature activity of reason can result only in the repulsion of his sympathies and the stultification of his mind."
Thus was play understood to be the primary instrument of learning.The following link is about flipping the classroom and flattening the school walls. Children of all ages need to be doing real things.

A simple answer to what ails American education is to:

make, fix and create...


  1. great find, mr. stowe - hey do you have a link out to the boomerang plan? I have a contemporary who drops by my garage every once in a while with his two sons for 'shop time'. most of what we do pertains to aeromodelling (and wooden battle axes), but both boys have expressed interest in boomerangs.

    you have any suggestions that you can share?

    thank you kindly,
    adam of oakland

  2. Anonymous5:27 AM

    It's going to be a wild day on the playground when those boomerangs are turned loose!