Tuesday, February 02, 2016

the lone scientist...

Yesterday at school I added a new base to my 90 degree cut off boxes that allows them to be clamped to a table with a second clamp holding the workpiece in place. This seems to be an ideal solution, as both the jig and workpiece are held rigidly in place for sawing. It worked perfectly and I had learned previously that a single clamp holding both the jig to the table and the stock in place was insufficient. The kids found it difficult to hold both the workpiece and jig in position and tighten the clamp at the same time. I realize this seems like an awkward adjustment to make to a relatively simple devise. It also raises the height about 4 inches.

Also working perfectly is my Greene and Greene styled box as you can see in the photo below. Still to be completed are the routing of edges of the lid and the addition of a pull on top.

The following is an interesting quote on the subject of Jean Piaget.
Contrary to what educators had long believed before Piaget came along, children are not just empty “containers” to be filled up with knowledge. On the contrary, they truly act as “lone scientists," constantly creating and testing their own theories about the world.

This is especially true of adolescents who have reached the formal operations stage. For example, if you ask a teen to find out what makes a pendulum swing faster or slower, he or she will probably start by testing a long string with a light weight at the end, then the same length of string with a heavier weight, then a shorter string with the lighter weight, and finally the shorter string with the heavier weight. From these observations, which actually constitute a simple scientific experiment, the teen will deduce that the shorter the string, the faster the pendulum swings, and that the weight at the end of the string makes no difference.

To Piaget, science, just like the organization of an individual’s knowledge, is a tool for adapting more effectively to the environment. Just like scientific theories, individuals’ cognitive structures are the product of active researchers who modify their way of thinking constantly to adjust it to the constraints of experience.thebrain.mcgill.ca

A Greene and Greene styled box
There is one problem with the quote above. A number of progressive educators long before Piaget knew that children were "not just empty 'containers' to be filled up with knowledge." Consider Froebel for instance, or Salomon, Cygnaeus, Montessori or John Dewey.

On the other hand, the use of tools to explore the nature of reality fits right in to what the ideal school might be. Using tools to make beautiful and useful things at the elementary level fully engages the student's sensori-motor capacities.  At the concrete operational level of intellectual development, the making and use of tools makes real that which the student is learning (and testing) in school. At the formal operational stage, the use of tools aids in the formulation and testing of hypotheses, through which abstract thinking may be exercised. And so, the hands and their use form the essential bridge from the concrete to the abstract that the child must cross to fulfill its full adult reasoning capacity.

I had an interesting conversation with an old friend who has long been involved with Waldorf education, and she quickly began telling me the things that she thought were wrong about Maria Montessori's approach. She seemed to be largely unaware of Froebel, or his contributions to both Montessori, and as a precursor to Rudolph Steiner's Waldorf methods.

I realize that sometimes to be sufficiently immersed in a particular method may be necessary to use it to its full effect. On the other hand, methodologies may serve also as blinders. If you look at the heart of Waldorf, or at the heart of Montessori's methods and philosophy, you'll find the hands in support of my own premise that their use is essential for the engagement of the heart. If we could just come to a collective realization that the hands are the most neglected resource in the education of our kids, we would move forward with the changes that are most needed by our kids. And I hope to remind my readers that the Wisdom of the Hands is not just about wood shop. The hands have the capacity to touch all things.

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

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