Sunday, December 09, 2012

personalized learning...

Sir Ken Robinson, in this Ted Talk, pleads the case for personalized learning. He says that we have a fast food model for our children's educations, but that we need to tread softly, for their dreams are spread at our feet. Want to know how to truly personalize learning? Engage the hands, put children "in touch " with learning.

Can you see the continuing dilemma? We know only what we know, and educate our children as though we do know what we do not, but the real meaning of education is not to put something in, but to draw something forth and to encourage children to meet and master a future which is unknown to us.

John Dewey had said:
A large part of the educational waste comes from the attempt to build a superstructure of knowledge without a solid foundation in the child's relation to his social environment. In the language of correlation it i s not science, or history, or geography that is the center, but the group of social activities growing out of the home relations. It is beginning with the motor rather than with the sensory side... It is one of the great mistakes of education to make reading and writing constitute the bulk of the school work the first two years. The true way is to teach them incidentally as the outgrowth of the social activities at this time.
According to Charles A. Bennett, to put Dewey's philosophy into practice,
"all teachers needed to be taught the arts and crafts, industries and occupations, that were serviceable in the home, school, and play environments of children. The teacher-training curriculum, therefore, was not organized to produce special teachers of manual-arts subjects. In training the teachers, however, special teachers were employed to teach construction in wood and metals, textiles and paper; also drawing and modeling, and art and design applied in a great variety of materials. In all of these, the ideal was to emphasize natural correlations with science, history, geography, and literature."
When I was in Finland, I had the pleasure of visiting the university of Helsinki wood shop where Kindergarten teachers, getting their master's degrees in education were learning to work with wood. How stupid American education has become in contrast to that. In my own wood shop today, and as our nation seems to be returning to an understanding that our citizenry is at its best when creating objects of useful beauty, I'll be applying one more coat of Danish oil to the lids of boxes. I'll also spend time getting the school wood shop clean and ready for class on Monday.

Yesterday, I posted a design for my usual pushstick here on the blog and sent the design to the reader who had made the request. John got right to work as you can see in the image at left. Nicely done.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Where's the hook on the push sticks to catch on the end of the wood being pushed through? In John's photo.

  2. Dave,
    John plans to add hooks from 1/4 in. Baltic Birch, which is a thing I should have mentioned in my blog post. My own preference is to simply cut them on the bandsaw.

  3. John Dilillo10:57 PM

    Yep, I just glued on some baltic birch scraps cut to the width of the push stick and about 1 3/4" long. It's easier for me to add the heel this way as my bandsaw is currently buried in the corner of the shop. :-p

    Thanks again for sharing the design Doug!