Wednesday, February 15, 2017

just to see what comes out

Some days I find I have almost nothing to say, so I start writing to see what comes out.

When they cut down all the trees, they looked around and discovered something important was missing. In remediation, and redemption of their own souls, and seeking a renewed sense of beauty in their lives, they began planting trees. It is an age old pattern. Human beings seem to run hot and cold to the extremes.

We did the same thing with the elimination of manual arts. First they made the colossal error of thinking that only a few children needed tactile engagement in the real world, making beautiful and useful things as others would be shuffled off to college. Then when a furor arose that some children were being singled out for abandonment in "the trades," while others would get the glories of a college education, it became a mantra, that "all children would go to college." (whether it led to a degree or not).

A few years back, the superintendent of schools in Rogers, Arkansas had told her teachers that they will have failed every child who does not go on to receive a 4 year college degree. That sort of thinking didn't work out so well. Being schooled primarily in the abstract, without manual training and the arts left a large number of students disaffected and disengaged. Some dropped out of high school. Some dropped out of college. Others attended college, but became burdened by debt for educations they will not use.

So without the trees to humanize the landscape, education had become a dismal place indeed. Have we turned a corner, and are we ready to allow children to do real things in schooling? Or shall we just put pictures of trees on our iPhone screens and let it go at that?

Today, the wood shop at Clear Spring School is a mess, and I must go in to straighten things up. This afternoon, I'll have students grades 1 through 6. The older ones are beginning instruction on the lathe.

Make, fix, create, and increase the propensity to learn likewise.

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