Thursday, March 21, 2019

experience first then build belief...

I did rather well on standardized tests when I was in school. The multiple choice answers on the tests were either right or wrong, and the fact that my parents gave me some practical experience outside school gave me the ability to sift out the answers that were patently false. If you can recognize that which is wrong on a standardized test, the correct answer is much easier to discern.

At that time, standardized tests were not such a big deal that anyone would obsess about them. We just went to school with our pencils sharp. We were told that the test results were not to be shared with others. At that time in the Omaha public schools the administrators were starting to be aware that the competitive culture around standardized testing that would later arise was not to be a good thing. And now, with our testing obsessed culture, we've allowed educational policy makers to really screw things up.

Kim Brand reminded me of an article I'd written 10 years ago about Kentniss and Wissenshaft and the rise of what is now called fake news. The problems we face have gotten worse and I don't think it took much imagination to know the direction we were headed. We believe we must pick and choose our belief systems (established by others), rather than relying on experience to establish belief.

The foundation for all this was laid in religion. We were told to believe like sheep in things we could not see or understand, and once trained for that, were told that one truth was just as good as another, but that we should battle out between ourselves and in our own heads which would drive the direction of things.

On the other hand, and in the real world, working with real tools, real materials, with real tasks at hand and while attempting to express beauty, usefulness and sincerity, we may be led to observe and draw conclusions on our own. So manual arts were the place we  only put kids who were at less risk of wrestling with the big ideas that come when the brain and hands are put in harmony with real life.

Rousseau had said "Put a young man in a wood shop and his hands work to the benefit of his brain, and he becomes a philosopher while thinking himself only a craftsman." That happened to me. But there's a great risk to putting smart people in work shops where they are inspired to think for themselves by directly observing the reality that surrounds us. They might become revolutionary and then threaten the prevailing thought.

Today I will sand boxes and begin the process of building a table base.

Make, fix and create...

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