Friday, June 23, 2017

the problems educational policy makers do not want to fix.

The problem is cheaping out. The wealthy will pay huge amounts to send their own children to schools where the student-teacher ratio is more favorable, and their children can associate with their own kind.

They choose to cheap out when it comes to the education of others. We could as an alternative, invest more in raising families out of poverty and reduce class size across the board. Instead, educational policy makers put their energies and billions into useless schemes that do nothing to advance American education. We had "No Child Left Behind." That left millions behind. We had "Race to the Top." That never reached it on any level. Now we have "Every Student Succeeds," for whatever good that does us.Through a system of vouchers the current administration plans to turn American education into a cash cow for it wealthy clients.

In August 5 through 6, the Froebel Society will hold their annual conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I will not be able to attend, but there should be a big buzz to the conference this year due to screenings of material from the documentary film project The History of Kindergarten. A huge amount of useful information will be presented for educators who want to make use of the child's natural capacity to learn by doing real things.

I will remind my readers again that the original idea behind Educational Sloyd was that manual arts would provide Kindergarten style learning to the upper grades. It was discovered also that manual arts are useful in the lower grades, and for all students.

When I visited the University of Helsinki in 2008, I got bored with the conference I was attending and wandered into the University wood shop where students working on their masters degrees in primary education were learning to teach wood working to children as young as Kindergarten and first grade. In the US, masters degree students would be learning how to force reading on the very young.

You can't push a rope. You can pull one. But when push comes to shove as it does in forcing a kid to read, jamming the words in before the child is developmentally ready to read is not only a waste of time, it shatters the child's self-esteem and kills the child's enthusiasm for school. It can take years for a child to recover from such abuse. Woodworking can be a way for a student to discover he or she is smart, even when the reading regimen suggests otherwise.

Forgive me, if there are times when I feel like screaming. The photo above is of children saluting the founder of Kindergarten. But who will celebrate the educators of today? To give children something to celebrate will require a revolution.

My thanks to Scott Bultman for having sent me some newly available images of Kindergarten. I love the oversized Froebel balls hanging from the ceiling, a salute to gift number one.

Make, fix, and create...

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