Tuesday, June 28, 2016

home again.

I am back in Arkansas and recovering from 9 days of intense woodworking at the Marc Adams School of woodworking. I had 17 students in each in three classes. One student, Mark, aged 82 made it through 9 days of class along with my trusted assistants.

I may in the future, choose to go only for 7 days in a stretch as 9 seems to have left me (and others) worn out.

Today I will be unpacking, putting tools in their proper places and will catch up on my review of "the loop" from my tiny boxes book.

William Torrey Harris was a complex character in American education. On the one hand, he helped Susan Blow to form one of the first public school Kindergartens in the US, and on the other, he led the movement to take American Indian children away from their families to put them in boarding schools.

He was quite literally an enemy of manual arts training and saw little value in it. As head of the US department of Education, he submitted a report highly critical of manual arts training that elicited a response from Calvin Woodward that can be read entirely (both sides) here: The Educational value of Manual Arts Training.  It's worth reading as it helps to illustrate the challenges that will be faced if we are able to proceed in an attempt to restore manual arts education in American Schools. There may still be those who are foolish enough to believe that the hands and brain are distinct organisms that should be taught in isolation from each other.

While William T. Harris was claimed to be a proponent of Froebel's philosophy, you can see how very little he understood of it in this direct quote:
"The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places ... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world."
Tools are the product of intellect, and the use of tools the means through which intelligence is created. Froebel understood that, but apparently, some others did not.

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

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