Sunday, March 05, 2017

the craftsman's method...

If you want an explanation of the conservative interest in vouchers, school choice, and religion-based primary and secondary education, you need only look at the language used among some conservatives as they attempt to direct public money (legally or illegally) into parochial education.

A couple days ago, an Arkansas legislator and a local college president received Federal indictments in a scandal in which the legislator had directed state funds into a small Christian college in return for a kickback. The case is described in an article in Arkansas Business Week.

The article quotes a text message explaining the conservative "selling point" to be used in convincing the Arkansas legislature, largely dominated by conservative Republicans as follows:
the small Christian college "produces graduates that are conservative voters. All state and secular colleges produce vast majority liberal voters." According to the indictment, Woods replied: "Agreed."
Is the purpose of education is to control what students think and how they think, or to teach them to think for themselves? One of these objectives imposes a particular ideology and results in an authoritarian mindset. The other builds intelligence, reasoning capacity and creativity. Which do you think might better serve our democracy and the future of our communities, nation and planet? And which do you think would build smarter kids?

Unfortunately among some, science is seen as being at odds with a religious viewpoint. The scientific method requires students to observe reality rather that just adhering to preset beliefs. Craftsmanship involves the same methodology as science and presents the same threat to the totalitarian mindset but without being loaded at the front end by assumptions of it being at odds to religious belief. (Christ, after all, was a a carpenter.)

In craftsmanship  a child forms a hypothesis based upon an understanding of materials, tools and techniques, inspired by something he or she wants to make. The child then tests the hypothesis by using the tools materials and techniques at hand, then repeats with the expectation of refinement and fresh understanding based on reflection on real experience. The results of craftsmanship are apparent to both the child and to supportive adults at home and at school. Through the making of useful beauty, the world is better understood, the student finds pleasure and satisfaction in school, and the student tests his or her own ideas, using the scientific method without calling it that.

It seems that few educators today recognize the relationship between craftsmanship and the development of intelligence and character. Perhaps you and can change that.

Make, fix and create.

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