Thursday, January 14, 2016

moving beyond drones and parasites

Making a wooden travel map of Arkansas
Yesterday in the wood shop at Clear spring School, Oen worked on his boomerang (and had to run outside to test it several times), Keelie made necklaces for friends, and my other students made tools for mineral prospecting during their upcoming trip across Arkansas. My upper level students worked on their box guitars. In the wood shop I have not been practicing "Sloyd," per se, but am reliant on the Theory of Educational Sloyd. As I mentioned yesterday, it takes a certain mental maturity to move from the concrete to the abstract, as documented by Piaget.
We must stimulate and not stifle children's activity, and set it pleasantly coursing along the channel which will lead to habits of work. "The child is father of the man," and if we would get rid of the drones and parasites in society, we must teach children not only to work, but to love work. As work, then, is necessary both for our individual and social comfort, it is important that the work should be done through love of itself, and not through love of adventitious aids, since one who does not love any particular work for its own sake, cannot do it in a right spirit or in the best possible manner. Now, one great advantage of Sloyd is that we find it is a subject which is enjoyed on account of its own intrinsic merits, and needs no extraordinary incentives to urge the scholar to pursue it. No rewards are needed, no extra tasks are imposed as punishments; but, on the contrary, if from any cause punishment is necessary, strange to say, a part of the Sloyd time is taken off, and the pupil, suspended from his work, is sent home earlier than usual—a proceeding he regards as a severe punishment. The prejudice against manual work is being surmounted: children love it in spite of the ban of society, which sentiment has first to be overcome.
The Presidential primary process in the US has me considering the relationship between the concrete and abstract. Our schooling, being focused on "right" answers and being bogged down in too much information does far too little to introduce students to the deeper complexities that are inherent in real life and in real issues. Schooling is largely an oversimplification. And so, fear becomes the most useful tool through which politicians play upon and manipulate the "drones and parasites" who are incapable of sifting through complex and abstract thought. If one realizes that the ability to work with abstraction is a thing that comes at a particular stage of mental development (as described by Piaget), and that all students do not arrive at that moment of development at the same time, and that if that window of development is squelched, you end up with an overwhelming lack of intellectual maturity in the general populace, particularly with regard to the ability to process abstract thought. (Duh.)

Today I am working on a proposal for next year's ISACS conference that I am basing on one I made in Finland in 2008, "Tools, Hands, and the Expansion of Intellect." In the wood shop, students will work on their box guitars.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the chance of learning likewise.

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