Thursday, June 08, 2017

Sympathetic and intelligent appreciation of each child.

I am turning my attention back to the ESSA wood studio, as items have been arriving that are needed to further prepare for coming classes. Today I'll be making sleds, and push sticks and cutting floor mats to appropriate size. The following is from Junius L. Meriam's book Child Life and Curriculum.
“Sympathetic and intelligent appreciation of the boy and girl; the contrast between intense activity out of school and comparative inactivity within the school; the contrast between the viewpoints of child and adult, — these considerations suggest an approach to conception of the purpose of elementary education. It is this: Let us for the time forget that we have studied reading, writing, arithmetic, and others of the traditional subjects. Let us set aside the notion that we adults have attained to our present stage of development by virtue of our study of these traditional subjects. Let us not feel certain that our pupils can develop only by the course we have taken.”

“Statement of the problem. Face to face with her group of pupils, each teacher may formulate her problem in this way: How can I help these boys and girls to do better in all those wholesome activities in which they normally engage? This statement presents the point of view taken throughout this volume. The emphasis is upon helping rather than merely teaching; consideration is directed to boys and girls as individuals, not as groups and averages; pupils are helped to do better than they have done before, rather than to compete with others; the subjects for study are the normal experiences of children and people in whom they are concerned (limited, of course, to wholesome activities) in place of the formal Three R's.”— Junius L. Meriam, Child Life and Curriculum, 1920
The point can be simply stated. Children (and adults) in the real world learn with energy and enthusiasm by doing real things. Schooling, in contrast, is hindered its artificiality. One aspect of its artificiality is that of considering students as a class rather than as individuals. The early progressive educational theorist knew this, but the demands for efficient management of kids got in the way of actual efficiency in education. Do real things, and anchor learning in real life and real learning results.

Yesterday my wife, her sister, her granddaughter and I went to Silver Dollar City and had a wonderful day of play. Was there learning involved? Perhaps so. It was fun, and we will remember it for many years to come.

Make, fix, and create.


  1. Anonymous2:30 AM

    It may be common knowledge, but can you name what the "formal Three R's" are, please?


  2. Reading, Writing and Arithmetic. The three R's I know it makes little sense to someone from outside the English language, but that's what they mean.