Thursday, December 03, 2015

Boxes and bows

Yesterday in the wood shop I spent just a bit of time assembling boxes. Where I will sell all these, I've no clue. With the boxes formed, I can begin crafting decorative veneered panels for the tops.

At Clear Spring School several of my students are finishing their bows and arrows, and one of my second grade students insisted on making one, too. We are also making toys for the local food bank as we often have at this time of year.

The following is from Susan Blow, Symbolic Education.
The greatest mistakes in education are rooted in the failure to recognize and conform to the different stages of natural development. Educational theorists are constantly pointing out this error; educational practice is constantly repeating it. Notwithstanding all that has been said and written, we still make knowledge our idol, and continue to fill the child's mind with foreign material, under the gratuitous assumption that at a later age he will be able, through some magic transubstantiation, to make it a vital part of his own thought. This is like loading his stomach with food which he can not digest, under the delusive hope that he may be able to digest it when he is a man. It is forcing the mind to move painfully forward under a heavy weight, instead of running, leaping, and flying under the incitement of its own energy and the allurement of its own perceived ideal. Thus to load the young mind is a grievous sin; but we commit a yet more heinous offense when we insist upon the exercise of faculties whose normal development belongs to a later age. The child is sympathetic, perceptive, and imaginative, but he is incapable of sustained observation and repelled by analysis and logical inference. The very flowers he loves so dearly become mere instruments of mental torture when we constantly insist upon his analyzing and classifying them. The attempt to force a premature activity of reason can result only in the repulsion of his sympathies and the stultification of his mind.
It is odd that when it comes to children taking their first steps, it is acceptable to parents and pediatricians that those steps be taken at 11 months. It is equally normal that first steps be taken at 15 months or later with pediatricians claiming no indication of abnormality.

Tiny bows and arrows
But if a child is not reading and doing math on schedule, teachers and parents are launched into conniption fits. Parents and teachers know that when a child walks is not a thing under external control so they are willing to surrender at least that to the child. We would be best advised to also understand that the exact timing of when a child  is developmentally ready to learn other things is not subject to exacting external control either.We would do well to listen to the advice offered in the 19th century and pay better attention to the developmental needs of each particular child. By not paying attention to the different stages of natural development and by applying too much pressure to learn, schools do much more harm than good.

So what should children do in school? We must restore play and playfulness to the heart of it.

Make, fix, create and attend to the necessity that others to learn likewise.

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