Thursday, November 14, 2013


Man is the wisest of all animals?
I am in Albany, in my hotel room and collecting my thoughts before tonight's Fiske Lecture. I have been thinking of what it means to strive for something. It seems that having expended effort builds up the ability to extend even greater effort. Early educators and those currently involved in Waldorf education called this will. The development of will was one of those matters of character that were understood to be crucial to any child's success. Those things at which we too easily succeed are of little value to us, and those things that we have expended greatest effort to achieve are felt as a lasting value and provide a scaffold or foundation upon which new accomplishments can be based. As parents and as citizens, we make things easy for children through the use of technologies, when what they really need is the opportunity to do difficult things and to find success in them

I don't think this is so very hard to understand, because most people will be able to look back and interpret their own experiences and learn that what I say is true.

So, how do we re-engineer American education to make room for how children actually learn? The answer is simple. Remove the pretense. Make things real. Give kids real things to do that offer greater challenge and resistance than that offered by fingers sliding over glass.

Part of tonight's address will be about fingerspitzengef├╝hl, a German term that describes the kind of intelligence that you get from doing real things.

In other words, Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Random thoughts that come to mind when reading your post...

    1.Motivation - the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something

    I understand there are both intrinsic (internal drive) and extrinsic (outside based stimuli) types. While the extrinsic kind can help in short stints of accomplishing something, the intrinsic kind is far more reliable in the long run. (I did a search see you have past posts on this as well.)

    I think that technology produces a form of extrinsic motivation in the way it can provide immediate gratification. As a result it can become quite addictive and therefore can produce a high (if you will) like any addiction can. I feel this addiction (like any addiction) quells internal drive. The reason an Internet-based addiction is different than other types of addictions -- and why it is so effective in this way -- is this...Usually too much of something (place any addictive substance that you can think of here) generally results in an abrupt unpleasant experience (person goes broke, passes out, etc.) that temporarily halts the human for a period of time with agony and/or pain. For some, this unpleasant experience can be a wake-up call – a chance to recognize that what I am doing may not be good thing to be doing. With the internet, there is not the same kind of abrupt unpleasant event that forces any real kind of cessation to the human (tiredness may cause one to fall asleep, but I consider this not so unpleasant). Rather, it is much more subtle. Internet has enabled a constant feed of this and as a result humans are "rocked to sleep". Sounds awful, but I think it is true.

    Technology needs to be kept in check, in control – or it will get the best of you. For sure, technology, is everywhere, even in the tools we use, etc. But the technology that can more easily be misused, the technology that can control you, the technology that can be internally destructive, without the human even realizing it, is the technology we need to be most concerned with keeping in check and in control.

    2.Stretch Goals and Continuous Improvement

    Similar to what you are saying, I think that more challenging goals/objectives that make us leave our comfort zone, that have some level of unknown/new territory for discovery – are the ones that will benefit us the most in the long run. As children learn to do tasks that cause them to stretch some, and then also experience the result of that work, this is what can help build up the internal drive and again the motivation for self learning. As more and more stretch goals are obtained they can eventually take on more and more difficult challenges to the point where at some point, they feel they can take on just about anything. Very much sloyd-like.

    Sometimes challenges can seem too difficult, too overwhelming and generate thoughts like “I can’t do it.” or “where would I start?”. For this I advise doing what Regina Brett recommends…“When in doubt, just take the next right step.”. Often a challenge can look too big to tackle, but when you just focus on a small piece of it, accomplish it, then a bit more, soon that way-too-big-challenge-for-me becomes something you can indeed accomplish.