Tuesday, July 15, 2014

small local communities of craftsmen...

The image at left is from the Sverresborg Trøndelag Folk Museum in Trondheim, and illustrates what I've come to suspect as the truth of Froebel's Gifts. In the US,  during the early days of Kindergarten Froebel's gifts were made by large manufacturers like Milton Bradley. But throughout the world, they were also made by craftsmen in small local communities. Why not? The gifts themselves were of such a nature that parents themselves, with common woodworking skills, could make them for their own children and teachers themselves might make them for their own schools.

As a nation we have become so estranged from our own creative capacities that we have lost sight of the role that the hand plays in our development of culture, character and intelligence. We walk around with digital devices that are smarter than we are, and are dependent on what they can call up from the web, for the content that stimulates our lives. In the past, culture arose individually from the creative capacities of our own hands.

Years ago, my mother was so excited when my father bought her a scroll saw for her birthday. What mother these days would want that? But as a Kindergarten teacher, my mother knew all kinds of ways that a scroll saw would enhance her classroom. In her classroom there were wooden puzzles that were missing parts! With this particular birthday gift, she could make them anew.

School districts all across the US seem convinced that personalized learning is a thing that comes from their technology purchases. An article in Education Week, Before Buying Technology Asking Why? debunks that myth.  There is a cheaper and more effective way to personalize learning. We each have the necessary tools attached at the wrists.

Make, fix and create...

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