Thursday, January 02, 2014

passive and one-sided...

Forgetting that children are complex social creatures, and that they are unique in their inclinations and abilities, we treat them as though they can be effectively force-fed learning. The cartoon is a French postcard from 1910 predicting what education would be like in the year 2000. These days classrooms have gone wireless and only slightly less passive. Books have been scanned unceremoniously and mindlessly by Google regardless of content, instead of being fed through a grinder. So, perhaps that's an improvement.

The image below is a google scan shown in the New Yorker in which a hand has been caught in the act of a mindless scan of which there was no human editorial review. Readers of digitized texts have been collecting such images and artifacts.
At one time in Educational history, Kindergarten and the manual arts captured the attention of parents, teachers and administrators. They had arrived through observation at the simple conclusion that children learn best and develop best in both character and intelligence when they do real things.

Now-a-days, we have powerful technologies that take creativity and understanding out of the hands of kids. In the interest of making all things easy, we substitute buttons and touch screens for real learning and then wonder why our schools are falling behind and wonder why our kids take so little interest in education.

While it seems utterly unlikely that educators (as academicians) would be willing to learn something from the manual arts, Educational Sloyd spelled out precepts of learning,  based on observation of how we actually learn.
  • Start with the interests of the child.
  • Move from the known to the unknown.
  • Move gradually from the easy to the more difficult.
  • Move from the simple to the complex,
  • and from the concrete to the abstract.
  • Wherever possible use individualized rather than classroom instruction.
Make, fix and create...

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