Monday, January 02, 2017

the snowflake is the mother of the avalanche

A blog reader Kevin sent the photo at left from a display of Froebel's gifts at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.  It is nice to see a renewed interest in Froebel!!!

A long-time friend and blog reader (friend first) commented that if we just keep at it, bit by bit, consciousness about the role of the hands in learning, and a return to sanity in education will be inevitable. There was a saying at Nääs ( my thanks to David Whittaker writing of it in his book), that "the snowflake is the mother of the avalanche." Otto Salomon kept up a prodigious correspondence with Sloyd enthusiasts from all over the world. It probably helped that he spoke so many different languages, and that many of his correspondents had attended his school at Nääs and had at least a bit of Swedish under their belts.

A snowflake is a very small thing indeed, and what's needed is an avalanche of understanding to give confidence to teachers to sweep aside all that has nothing to do with the hands. This is not to say that abstract ideas are not important, but simply that all things need to be touched upon in the most tactile manner in order to awaken student passion for learning.

Ideally, schools would assess student interest each year (not student ability.) The purpose of the assessment would be to identify areas of special interest. Once those areas of special interest have been identified, efforts would be made to help the student outline an area of study that answers student questions, identifies areas of potential exploration, identifies resources that the school can bring to bear to facilitate learning and establishes a means through which student performance can be measured in a manner relevant to both teacher and student.

Last semester at Clear Spring School, the high school students were required to name areas of particular interest and develop projects that met their own learning goals. Some did solo work and others chose to work in small teams. Their displays of their work at Xmas time were well done, as though they really cared about their work and about how others perceived their work.

Today in the wood shop, I'll do additional sanding and shaping on the base of the trestle table.

Make, fix, create, and increase the chances that others learn likewise.


  1. Anonymous5:35 AM

    Best wishes for 2017

  2. May we be the mothers (or fathers) of an avalanche of interest in making beautiful things.