Saturday, March 25, 2017

A welcoming address, part one:

In 1900 the Eastern Manual Training Association met in Cleveland, with the opening remarks of Henry C. Muckley, Superintendent of Cleveland Schools. This short address lays out the original vision of manual arts training that was long forgotten in American education except by those who continued to teach manual arts. I present it here in two parts, today and tomorrow in the hopes that some tomorrow(or even today), American educational policy makers will re-awaken to the essential role the hands play in learning. Dr. Muckley:
We take special pleasure in welcoming this body of teachers because of what you bring us. We expect to derive great benefit from your visit among us. You represent one phase of the complete education of man.

The modern ideas of education are somewhat different from those which prevailed in earlier times. They have kept pace with the enlarging conception of man himself; for any theory of education must rest ultimately upon the nature of the individual who is to be educated. It is not enough now, that men be skilled in mere dialectic. That would have answered in the days of the scholastics, when the subjective nature of man was unduly emphasized and his outward relation measurably lost sight of.

The modern view of man is that he is a being of infinite possibility. While this theory of man has lurked in the writings of great and good men of the past, it has not been as thoroughly emphasized in practice as it ought to have been. Sometimes one phase of man's life has been emphasized by one people and sometimes another, but we believe today in education as the development of every power which man possesses.

Memory is no longer thought to be a power resident within the brain. It is defused or distributed through every tissue of the body. Single muscles have their memories, sets of muscles have their united memories, and every activity of the body seems to have this quality of memory resident in some way within the organ which manifests the activity. Connected with all these various organs of the body, we have at the center the great nervous axis, consisting of the brain and spinal cord. These are the great storers up of the power to liberate the energy of these organs; and the development of an individual is in a way measured by the development of these centers.

It is a physiological law that the growth and development of any part of the body is conditioned upon the exercise of that part. It would follow then that the highest development of these nervous centers is only secured by the exercise of every part of the body with which they are connected. The organs react upon the brain; the brain in turn sends out its stimulus to the various organs, and thus there is a mutual benefit accruing to either by their joint exercise.

You come to us as representatives of that practical form of education which comes through the doing of things. You would educate man to greater skill, you would educate the eye to greater precision; all of which means that you would develop and strengthen those portions of the central nervous system which control these organs, which preside over them, without which they themselves would be meaningless and helpless. Thus manual training becomes in its analysis, nervous and mental training. ––Henry C. Muckley, 1900
It is a rainy day in Arkansas and so I share (once again) one of my favorite illustrations showing a father and his children at work on a rainy day. Can there be anything more pleasurable or meaningful than that?

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

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