Tuesday, April 26, 2016

at birth...

The following is from Barbara Clark's book Growing up Gifted:
The process of learning can be enhanced by increasing the strength and the speed of transmission or synaptic activity. Through changes in teaching and learning procedure, the growth of dendritic branching, the complexity of the network of connections among neurons, and the quantity of glial cells can be increased. These are the measurement differences in brains that show advanced and accelerated development. By the environment we provide, we change not just the behavior of children, we change them at the cellular level. In this way gifted children become biologically different from average learners, not at birth, but as a result of using and developing the wondrous, complex structure they were born with. At birth nearly everyone is programmed to be phenomenal. —emphasis mine.
The "strength or speed of synaptic activity" is a matter largely dependent on the full engagement of all the senses (and most particularly the hands). Educational policy makers developed schooling that prevents students from being as phenomenal as nature intends, by sequestering students at desks from real life. Only a few are recognized as gifted and talented, though nearly all started out with the potential to be so.

Friedrich Froebel had observed young German mothers at play with their children and made some connections. He observed that the period from 3 to 8 was largely neglected in schooling and devised Kindergarten to give children a leg up on the development of intellect. But by the time Maria Montessori developed her system of teaching young children in the early1900's, Kindergarten had been distorted to the point that as many as 50 children at a time were crowded into kindergartens and the individualized nourishment needed by each child had been made impossible.

Otto Salomon's methods, too, had been compromised. Take six or eight students in a classroom, allow the teacher time to answer each student's questions and demonstrate in a timely manner the student's next steps, and you get different results than you would if you crowd 25 kids in a class. Salomon was challenged by other educator's for his insistence that instruction be individualized for each student. Even then, policy makers were unwilling to invest the necessary resources to provide such an education.

The biggest question in American education is whether or not we want it on the cheap, thus depriving each child the opportunity to reach full potential, or whether we are willing to invest in the lives and intelligence of our children and our future generations. It is time for parents, teachers and grandparents to take matters into their own hands.

I was too busy in wood shop yesterday to take photos until my 4th, 5th and 6th grade kids were gone. They are making birdhouses. In my home work shop, I'm making guitar necks and taking photos of the processes for making 4 different styles of neck, each involving several distinct processes.

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

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