Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Allowing the child's growth to lead

I hope that my readings of Kindergarten are not boring to my readers from the woodworking world. It may help those to remember that manual arts was first intended by some to be a continuation of a kindergarten method of learning through play. My own investigation of manual arts education began with my realization that everything I did in my own wood shop was intimately bound into every other facet of my modern life, and that woodworking offered the ideal way for students to come to a better hands-on expression of learning in a variety of subjects. Froebel in a similar fashion had seen subjects as being integrated and interconnected, whereas we send kids off to study discrete, isolated subjects without pausing to consider how the child will integrate the subjects into the fabric of their own understanding.
"No new subject of instruction should come to the scholar, of which he does not at least conjecture that it is grounded in the former subject, and how it is so grounded as its application shows, and concerning which he does not, how ever dimly, feel it to be a need of the human spirit." Friedrich Froebel.
Yesterday in the wood shop, my lower elementary school and middle school students worked on toys to be given to the food bank for holiday distribution. In the Republic of Childhood in reference to Froebel's third gift it states:
"A child is far less interested in that which is given him complete than in that which needs something from him to make it perfect. He loves to employ all his energies in conceiving and constructing forms; the less you do for him the better he enjoys it, if he has been trained to independence."
In the footnotes, it continues:
"Probably the chief wish of children is to do things for themselves, instead of to have things done for them. They would gladly live in a Paradise of the Home-made. For example, when we read how the 'prentices of London used to skate on sharp bones of animals, which they bound about their feet, we also wished, at least, to try that plan, rather than to wear skates bought in shops."--Andrew Lang

"Complete toys hinder the activity of children, encourage laziness and thoughtlessness, and do them more harm than can be told. The active tendency in them turns to the distortion of what is complete, and so becomes destructive."

"Any fusing together of lessons, work, and play, is possible only when the objects with which the child plays allow room for independent mental and bodily activity, i. e., when they are not themselves complete in the child's hand. Had man found every thing in the world fixed and prepared for use ; had all means of culture, of satisfaction for the spiritual and material wants of his nature, been ready to his hand, there would have been no development, no civilization of the human race."
So, this Xmas if you wish to give gifts, give those things that are incomplete without the child's complete engagement of his or her own imagination. If you are a woodworker, plan some time to be together with your child or grandchild in the shop.

Make, fix and create.

1 comment:

  1. The insights you share about your readings of Kindergarten are far from boring. In my viewpoint, I think some of these most recent posts are among the best of your blog and really capture in "plain English" the key points your blog strives to convey. If only the officials who drive and influence our public education systems fully comprehend and recognize these same key points. Of course, in order to do this they will need to leave their current frame of mind and entertain what may appear as out-of-the-box type thinking for them. After some deep thought and personal evaluation about these points, though, I would hope that “see” how removed some of our educational practices are from – well, reality.

    My vote is .... don't stop now...keep going....I can't wait for tomorrow's post....