Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The impact of Kindergarten...

Phildelphis World Exposition's Kindergarten class, 1876.
I had such a good day at school today, and plan to have just as good a day tomorrow. The kids are so much fun and show such enthusiasm for woodworking when they are challenged to do meaningful work.  This afternoon, when they saw that I was in the shop during lunch hour, they started filtering in early to work on their bows and arrows, and to hang out with the wonderful smell of wood. I'd been cutting cherry, so the odor of that wood was dominant in a room already smelling of sawn ash and planed pine. I'm reminded that manual arts in school was intended by some to extend the Kindergarten method into the upper grades, so it can be added to the long list of effects that Kindergarten had on education at large. The following is Nina C. Vandewalker's description of the impact of Kindergarten written in 1907.
“The kindergarten movement is one of the most significant movements in American education. In the fifty or more years that have passed since the first kindergarten was opened in the United States education has been transformed, and the kindergarten has been one of the agencies in the transformation. Although it came to this country when the educational ideal was still in the process of transformation, its aims and methods differed too radically from the prevailing ones to meet with immediate acceptance. The kindergarten is, however, the educational expression of the principles upon which American institutions are based, and as such it could not but live and grow upon American soil, if not in the school system, then out of it. Trusting to its inherent truth to win recognition and influence, it started on its educational mission as an independent institution, the embodiment of a new educational ideal. Its exponents proclaimed a new gospel — that of man as a creative being, and education as a process of self-expression. They substituted activity for the prevailing repression, and insisted upon the child's right to himself and to happiness during the educational process. They emphasized the importance of early childhood, and made the ideal mother the standard for the teacher. They recognized the value of beauty as a factor in education, and by means of music, plants, and pictures in the kindergarten they revealed the barrenness of the old-time schoolroom. By their sympathetic interpretation of childhood, their exaltation of motherhood, their enthusiasm for humanity, and their intense moral earnestness they carried conviction to the educational world. The kindergarten so won its way to the hearts of the people that the school at last opened its doors and bade it welcome. It has become the symbol of the new education.”
You can see That American education was headed in the right direction for a short time, then disrupted. In the meantime, "disruptive technology" has been presumed by those selling it to have only positive effect, and so anything that presents any consistency or constancy in human culture appears to be fair game for purposeful disruption. Whatever it is, disrupt it and see what happens. They used to say that if its not broken, don't fix it. Now the idea promulgated by avid technologians is break so it needs fixn' in the technologian manner. If schools buy into the technological fix, they must buy new equipment and software every three years to sustain it. But a good bandsaw, or lathe can last 20 years in a school setting, and kids can actually learn about 3 times as much about themselves in half the time by using one. How many kids these days are engaged in making useful beauty?  Too few.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others learn likewise.

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