Wednesday, January 13, 2016

a stone from a gravesite.

 The following is from Susan Blow's Symbolic Education, describing the profound effect Pestalozzi had on the development of humane schooling.
Pestalozzi lets us into the secret of his life and work when he says, "Through my heart I am what I am." He was an educator because he was a philanthropist. He pleaded for universal education because he saw therein the only effective means of lessening human misery. As he tells us in the Song of the Swan, he "desired at first nothing else than to render the ordinary means of instruction so simple as to permit of their being employed in every family." Searching for the elements of particular branches of instruction, he was led to ask what were the prime elements of all knowledge. Finding in number, form, and words the "alphabet of knowing," he sought to supplement it by an "alphabet of doing," but in the attempt to find the elements of technical skill he was confessedly a failure. From the search for the elements of knowledge and skill there was an easy transition to the thought of the germinal activities of mind and to the definition of education as the "development of inherent powers." Finally, enlightened by the endeavor "to psychologize education," Pestalozzi perceived that "the forces of the heart, faith and love, do for immortal man what the root does for the tree," and that "the center and essential principle of education is not teaching, but love."
You will likely not find any of the current crop of educational reformers speaking in such ways. But I think one might see in this quote the profound effect that Pestalozzi had. Otto Salomon kept a stone from Pestalozzi's gravesite on his desk as a reminder of how schooling must be made to work in order to be most effective.

I am trying to get to a point of explaining the profound relationship between the concrete and the abstract. The stone on the desk (just as I keep a stone from Salomon's gravesite on my own) is a concrete symbol of a whole lot more.

But let us take Oen as an example. He wants to make a boomerang, and I helped him to assemble the outward shape of the thing. How, then, can he shape the edges to bring it from a rough form to one that sustains flight? I'm directing him to look very closely at a boomerang that works, and not roll his eyes when I try to explain the principles of aerodynamics.

We are near always distracted by the concrete, and neglect to look deeper. For example, when studying Educational Sloyd people see the model series, all carefully arranged and executed (either poorly or with skill) and overlook the underlying exercises that are never illustrated in such concrete form.  By focusing on the underlying exercises, consciously or unconsciously, Salomon had applied himself to developing Pestalozzi's alphabet of doing.

The failure to comprehend abstraction, and the failure to go deeper into our understanding of things is the basic error of our civilized population. And that, my friends, is used to enslave populations.

In the woodshop today we will be making cigar box guitars, boomerangs, and tools for rock prospecting. The photos above are of my first one string "panjo," a near useless instrument in my own hands, but one that might provide some fun for others. The idea of it was to demonstrate techniques and experimental process.

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

No comments:

Post a Comment