Monday, March 27, 2017

a return to classes...

Spring break is over today at the Clear Spring School, and while my students are coming back and looking forward to wood shop, I know that the balance of the school year will go by quickly. It always does. The students have camping, and travel at the various grade levels, and those important hands-on activities cut into time available for wood shop.

I will enjoy the time we have left, and will reflect upon my student's steady growth.

This evening I expect a small film crew to arrive for an interview about the interconnections between Manual Arts education and Kindergarten. The idea was that the self-activity begun in Kindergarten would be kept alive throughout a student's time in school. As children had gained all they might from the Kindergarten gifts, real work in the transformation of materials would lead them toward fulfilling adult responsibilities in family and community. The motive behind Educational Sloyd and many individual manual arts programs was to sustain the kinds of learning that took place in Kindergarten that it might last throughout the students schooling.

In preparation for the interview, I've been thinking of my mother who was a Kindergarten teacher. She began teaching Kindergarten in the 1940's when Froebel's idea of learning through play was still the guiding principle. Then in the 1970s and 1980s educational policy makers began transforming Kindergarten into the new first grade. My mother would tell her worried parents that when they ask their children what they did in school today, and they say '"played", remember that play is the way their children learn best. It is the most important work they do. From that high point of understanding, things have gone way down hill.

By pushing reading down into Kindergarten, American schools have shown no improvement. For comparison, in Finland, they start school reading at age 8 and according to international standardized tests, Finnish students have far surpassed American readers at the eighth grade level in 30% less time.

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

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