Wednesday, January 29, 2014

let us live with our children...

Froebel's most famous quote, "Let us live with our children," has been variously misunderstood. One can say, "Let us live for our children," which suggests a slavish arrangement in which the child is king of the household and develops a sense of entitlement. The adoration expressed for children who are wanted and loved is not a bad thing. Children thrive upon love. And yet children will also need to be groomed for disappointment, as in real life, others won't be as slavish in their devotions. They must learn to be resilient under difficult and unexpected circumstances, and be able to work cooperatively with others.

Post modern education sets children apart from real life into circumstances contrived to impart specifically prescribed things. Reading is one. Math is another. Science or religion another. Art and PE are thrown in as escapes from more rigorous academic, abstract learning. But when Froebel said what he said and that he is most famous for saying, was that what he had in mind?

To live with is a two way street. It means bringing children into our activities and entering into theirs, not as a detachment in form from real life, but as a part of life itself. One of the ways to bring real life into a classroom is through the use of real tools and real materials and making real object that have use in the child's life and in the home. Kindergarten made use of real life by the introduction of gifts and occupations that were intended to help the child's understanding of real life. Educational Sloyd built upon that.
“The sensational curiosity of childhood is appealed to more particularly by certain determinate kinds of objects. Material things, things that move, living things, human actions and accounts of human action, will win the attention better than anything that is more abstract. Here again comes in the advantage of the object-teaching and manual training methods. The pupil's attention is spontaneously held by any problem that involves the presentation of a new material object or of an activity on any one's part. The teacher's earliest appeals, therefore, must be through objects shown or acts performed or described. Theoretic curiosity, curiosity about the rational relations between things, can hardly be said to awake at all until adolescence is reached.” -- William James. Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals.
Much of what troubles post modern education is its artificiality. Even the pretense that it is all engineered as a benefit for our children is a distortion of the facts. I believe that what Froebel had in mind was to fix what became missing in his own life at the death of his mother. It was not for children to be set aside in the pretense of education, but to be included, taken along with, lived with and loved.

Yesterday in my wood shop, I began shaping the undersides of boxes by using a template to guide the cut. The template is easy to construct and this is a technique I'll use this next month in an article for American Woodworker.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, my lower elementary school students will be finishing their t-rex dinosaur models.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. froebeltoday.com11:02 AM

    Your comments on Froebel's famous saying of, "Come let us live with our children" is spot on. One way, which you point out...thank you for doing to have the children use real materials; not adult-made 'safe' copies. A good example of this is in Froebel's much misunderstood book, "Mutter, Spiel und Kosselieder" or Mother Plays & Songs. This book was used heavily in Froebel Teacher Training Schools and Normal Schools and is a delight to read. The play called "Pat a Cake" has an illustration of children imitating the adult world by making their own breads and cakes with mud. Something I remember doing as a child. Froebel goes on to say in his commentary that the child should be brought into the adult world of food preperation/baking but also respect the childs play. The Mother Play book has several songs on woodworking that you may enjoy. I encourage you & your readers to give this antique resource a chance. Much can be learned by the it was just a moment ago.