Wednesday, February 26, 2014

seat time

Clear Spring woodworking bench. Link below.
State laws require children to be in school a certain number of hours each year, so the difficulties posed by weather (ice and snow) in the southern states this year are still wreaking havoc in schools. Children are being asked to attend school on Saturdays, they are losing their spring breaks in some cases, and school boards are having to wrestle with finding means to extend what is commonly called "seat time." In many cases the children consider the thing to be a joke, and are skipping the designated days. In some cases they have employment or planned activities they can't miss.

Seat time is often the opposite of learning. Learning is often what happens when mother nature throws wrenches into the works and forces us into closer engagement with real life.

In any case, William James offered some useful advice for teachers who find their children staring out windows.
“There are two types of will. There are also two types of inhibition. We may call them inhibition by repression or by negation, and inhibition by substitution, respectively. The difference between them is that, in the case of inhibition by repression, both the inhibited idea and the inhibiting idea, the impulsive idea and the idea that negates it, remain along with each other in consciousness, producing a certain inward strain or tension there: whereas, in inhibition by substitution, the inhibiting idea supersedes altogether the idea which it inhibits, and the latter quickly vanishes from the field.

For instance, your pupils are wandering in mind, are listening to a sound outside the window, which presently grows interesting enough to claim all their attention. You can call the latter back again by bellowing at them not to listen to those sounds, but to keep their minds on their books or on what you are saying. And, by thus keeping them conscious that your eye is sternly on them, you may produce a good effect. But it will be a wasteful effect and an inferior effect; for the moment you relax your supervision the attractive disturbance, always there soliciting their curiosity, will overpower them, and they will be just as they were before: whereas, if, without saying anything about the street disturbances, you open a counter-attraction by starting some very interesting talk or demonstration yourself, they will altogether forget the distracting incident, and without any effort follow you along. There are many interests that can never be inhibited by the way of negation. To a man in love, for example, it is literally impossible, by any effort of will, to annul his passion. But let 'some new planet swim into his ken,' and the former idol will immediately cease to engross his mind.” - William James, Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals, 1899
At Clear Spring School we are wondering how to make up for lost learning in the classroom. As an independent school, we are not required by State Law to have the children on campus a set number of days, but we do have goals and objectives in learning that should be met, and that we and the children are responsible to meet.

The amount of time spent in schools may not directly correlate with learning.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a teacher from a charter school in LA that wants to start woodworking with their kids. I promised to send a plan for our CSS woodworking benches as shown in the page above. If you want a copy you can find it HERE!

Make, fix, create. Share with others your inclination to do so.

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