Wednesday, October 29, 2014

senses, grasping and comprehension...

Our Maker bot printing legos™
Comenius (1592-1670) had put forth his argument that the senses form the core of learning:
"The ground of this business is, that sensual (sensuous) objects be rightly presented to the senses for fear that they not be received. I say, and say it again aloud, that this is the foundation of all the rest; because we can neither act nor speak wisely, unless we first rightly understand all the things which are to be done and whereof we have to speak. Now there is nothing in the understanding which was not before in the senses. And therefore to exercise the senses well about the right perceiving of the differences of things will be to lay the grounds for wisdom and all wise discourse, and all discreet actions in one's course of life, which, because it is commonly neglected in schools, and the things that are to be learned are offered to scholars without their being understood or being rightly presented to the senses, it cometh to pass that the work of teaching and learning goeth heavily onward and offereth little benefit."
The engagement of the senses lays the foundation for comprehension. And yet educational policy makers have become ignoramuses. What Comenius had observed in the 17th century still applies to children today.

The following is from Wendy Lecker's article, The disturbing transformation of kindergarten.
Two major studies confirmed the value of play vs. teaching reading skills to young children. Both compared children who learned to read at 5 with those who learned at 7 and spent their early years in play-based activities. Those who read at 5 had no advantage. Those who learned to read later had better comprehension by age 11, because their early play experiences improved their language development.

Yet current educational policy banishes play in favor of direct instruction of inappropriate academic content and testing; practices that are ineffective for young children.
To make children sit at desks, studying word they barely comprehend, restrains them at arms length from learning. The word comprehend, by the way, is rooted in the words to grasp, and completely.

Yesterday we printed our first 8 legos™ on the makerbot printer. The kids followed my explicit written instructions using sketchup to design them, then customized them by writing their names or initials in raised letters. It took one hour and 19 minutes to print 6, so you can see that Lego™ has nothing to fear from competition. Ours fit just a wee bit tight. In fact, they snapped together and were a bit hard to pry apart.

Watching the printer at work is mesmerizing, but would bore after awhile. The kids asked if we are going to use it for other things. I asked in reply that they, "Design something beautiful, interesting and useful first."

Today is the annual Clear Spring School Harvest Party. The kids dress up in pioneer clothing, have prepared games to play, and entertain our pre-school students and each other. In the wood shop, students will be making button toys.

Make, fix and create...

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