Saturday, February 15, 2014

the non-academic solution.

Today in the wood shop, I'll be making boxes.

In the halls of academia, if it were any day but Saturday of a long weekend, folks would be thinking hard, trying to figure out how things could have gone so wrong in American education, and how they might be fixed. By Tuesday when academia goes back to work following the President's day weekend, they'll be lined up on both sides with schools in the middle. These same folks, might do better in the wood shop, where the motions of hands might test logic, and offer a new/old direction.

My readers might be interested in having it confirmed that the human body has a role in education, despite the construction of schooling that seems to deny it. This paper by Anne Chodakowski and Kieran Egan supports this rather old and neglected view.

Jean Jacques Rousseau had said, "Put a young man in a work shop, his hands will work to the benefit of his brain, and he will become a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman." Did you know that your plumber is a philosopher who can fix pipes? He may not know where Spinoza fits into the order of philosophic progression, and may be made to feel stupid for that reason, but he might have some other more direct wisdom to impart.

From Charles H. Hamm, Mind and Hand, 1886:
It is the most astounding fact of history that education has been confined to abstractions. The schools have taught history, mathematics, language and literature and the sciences to the utter exclusion of the arts, not withstanding the obvious fact that it is through the arts alone that other branches of learning touch human life... In a word, public education stops at the exact point where it should begin to apply the theories it has imparted... At this point the school of mental and manual training combined--the Ideal School--begins; not only books but tools are put in to the hands of the pupil, with this injunction of Comenius; "Let those things that have to be done be learned by doing them."
Also, from Charles H. Hamm:
When it shall have been demonstrated that the highest degree of education results from combining manual with intellectual training, the laborer will feel the pride of a genuine triumph; for the consciousness that every thought-impelled blow educates him, and so raises him in the scale of manhood, will nerve his arm, and fire his brain with hope and courage.
Hamm's theory is the antithesis of Plato, from Divine Dialogs:
"...the simplest and purest way of examining things, is to pursue every particular by thought alone, without offering to support our meditation by seeing or backing our reasonings by any other corporal sense."
To Plato, I offer James' rejoinder: "Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. There is in the living act of perception always something that glimmers and twinkles and will not be caught, and for which reflection comes too late."--William James, 1902.

There's also the old story of the three philosophers who went for a walk on a starry night. As they walked along contemplating the majesty of the universe, they fell headlong into a drainage ditch. Whether or not they learned anything from the experience is not yet known.

In our local struggle against having a 345 KV powerline thrust by AEP/SWEPCO through our small community, we are waiting for the Public Service Commission to do one of 4 things by Tuesday afternoon.
  1. They can let the judge's ruling stand, thus forcing the power company to build part of its power line in Missouri and face a less friendly set of Missouri (rather than Arkansas) regulators.
  2. They can choose to approve one of the routes that the judge, the commission, the Army Corp of Engineers and the National Park Service found unreasonable.
  3. They can attempt to create a new route by taking bits and pieces of various routes and connecting the dots into something equally objectionable.
  4. They could do the right thing and throw the whole unwarranted application out.
Given the vagary of the of the law, the hunger for corporate profits at the expense of the environment and the pro-industry stance of governmental commissions like the APSC Option 4 is least likely.On this issue, I was quoted today in E&E News as follows:
Doug Stowe, a member of the group and a woodworker who moved to Eureka Springs, Ark., in 1975, said testimony during evidentiary hearings on the project last year demonstrated the transmission line is no longer needed because of a slowdown in electricity demand growth following the recession and a separate reliability project completed by Entergy Corp. He also believes the project is being pursued not to benefit electric reliability in the immediate area but as part of a larger plan to move bulk power through the state.

Make, fix, create, and engage others in doing likewise.

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