Friday, December 06, 2013

occupations and exercises...

When you understand the fact that Educational Sloyd was modeled on Froebel's Kindergarten and intended as a means to build upon the Kindergarten method some of the parts of it make perfect sense... particularly as you begin to understand Kindergarten at a deeper level. For example, the Kindergarten gifts carried three distinct areas of the child's engagement... Forms of Life, forms of Knowledge, and forms of Beauty.

Forms of life, were objects constructed from Kindergarten tools that expressed the child's relationship with family and community. Forms of Knowledge were arrangements of objects that expressed the child's growing understanding of geometry, structure and math. Forms of beauty... what can one say? They were intended to reinforce the child's capacity to discover beauty in life, in learning, and in the universe, and to partake in the creation of that beauty.

In Educational Sloyd you can see how the Kindergarten learning model was applied in the development of models through which children would develop skill. The models were intended to be useful to the child and to real life processes within his or her community. The models were arranged to offer exercises that gradually and incrementally expanded the child's level of knowledge and skill. And of course the models themselves and the child's making of them were intended to instill a sense of the beauty of form.

Today in Northwest Arkansas, we have about 5 inches of snow with more to come during the day. This is our first winter storm of the year, and the forest outside is lovely. After a bit, I'll get in warm coveralls, and use the tractor to clear our long drive. I love those first steps in deep snow when the world appears fresh, new and untrodden. It's like taking a piece of rough lumber and making something beautiful from it, though oddly in reverse.

In the use of Kindergarten blocks (gifts 3, 4, 5, and 6), children were told to make, not knock down and destroy, and when the blocks were to be put away, they were to be neatly stacked as larger cubes, would then have the empty box placed over them, be slid as a cube inside the box carefully off the Kindergarten table onto the lid, be turned right side up and put neatly away for future use. The simple ritual meant that each time the blocks were gotten out for learning and play, they presented a perfect cube... a form beautiful and pristine. Each child would be ceremonially involved in the richness of real life, as through taking their first steps in freshly fallen snow.

Make, fix and create...

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