Saturday, December 26, 2015

let them be like puppies or ants...

My wife and I have friends who have been adjusting their lives to fit the dog they got as a puppy about 7 months ago. It is a beautiful dog and loving and large, but it is also of a hunting and tracking breed that was carefully engineered to its specific purpose.  It is a hound capable of going great distances in the pursuit of game. That means of course, that the dog loves to follow its nose and run towards trouble. It's not a bad dog. It is doing what it was designed to do whether its owners are in agreement at that moment or not. Some additional training will help, but do you purposefully crush the spirit of the dog you love, or can adjustments be made on both sides?

And so, the question must be asked, "How do we create schools that will benefit all children without crushing their spirits?" Is there a formula for it? These questions not new. Fitting a puppy to the circumstances of its life, and the life at large to the circumstances of the puppy are very much like what we face in "schooling kids," for they, too, are genetically evolved through long ages to learn and grow through particular exercises.  John Amos Comenius 1592-1670, considered the father of modern pedagogy (the science of instruction) observed:
Boys ever delight in being occupied in something for the youthful blood does not allow them to be at rest. Now as this is very useful, it ought not to be restrained, but provision made that they may always have something to do. Let them be like ants, continually occupied in doing something, carrying, drawing, construction and transporting, provided always that whatever they do be done prudently. They ought to be assisted by showing them the forms of all things, even of playthings; for they cannot yet be occupied in real work, and we should play with them.
There will be those who will argue that boys, having been neutered by technology will not longer be the boys Comenius observed. Can that truly be the case? My friends could collar their dog with an electronic device that would administer an electric shock when it nears the border of their property. They have chosen a more adaptive and humane course. In the case of boys, the use of drugs to control behavior is at an all time high.

Today in the wood shop, I will be sanding boxes. It seems that I, like a dog, have been engineered toward specific things. So today my boxes are ready for more sanding and for cutting the lids loose so they can be opened and shut.

Make, fix, create and extend to others the opportunity to learn likewise.

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