Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wooden clocks and telling time.

Yesterday in the school wood shop I made wooden clocks with my first, second, and third grade students. They've been studying telling time, and had made paper clocks in class, but wooden clocks that you've made and decorated yourself, carry lasting lessons.

One student did not need the lesson, as he was already good at reading the time from a normal clock. I suggested he make one for his younger sister. But he decided to stamp his name on his anyway, and he can still use it to help his sister learn to tell time. The students are proud of their work, and I hear from other teachers at all grade levels that wood shop is their favorite thing in school.

In the photo note the happy face made of tiny nails on the new airplane. Would you not have wanted to have made that yourself?

When the clocks were done, my students asked, "Can we make something more?" It's what happens when children learn to use real tools and real materials to make things that interest them.

Is it to much for me to repeat the principles of Educational Sloyd over and over again, and may I do it without boring my readers and driving you all nuts? Have I gone off the deep end?

Well here goes.
  • Start with the interests of the child.
  • Move from the known to the unknown, 
  • From the easy to more difficult, 
  • From the simple to the complex and 
  • From the concrete to the abstract. 
Use this as a simple checklist in every area of education. Even in college. In every field of study, regardless of how abstract, effective learning demands that it be brought home to the hands. And students of all ages love learning when it is real and fulfills their most natural inclinations, which include being of service to family and community.

My fourth, fifth and sixth grade students  have been learning to turn on the lathe, and one of the most challenging things is to get the mind to slow down so that the hands can take greater control. Moving the lathe tool helter-skelter will not do. In fact, turning is a form of deliberation and meditation, and to surrender oneself to the process is a cure for the kinds of stress that ails students of all ages.

Make, fix, create, and extend the notion of hands-on learning to others that they might find joy.

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