Tuesday, December 03, 2019


Three recent studies suggests that instead of fidget spinners being useful in helping some students toward classroom learning success, they have the opposite effect. https://hechingerreport.org/3-studies-argue-against-fidget-spinners-in-the-classroom/ It has been argued that fidget spinners help kids adapt to the stress of the modern classroom, having particular effect on those students suffering from ADHD. Claims for the value of fidget spinners were made by the marketers on pure speculation and without evidence.

On the other hand, fidget spinners may be useful in helping kids to cope with boring lessons... not in helping to manage to learn those lessons but helping them to manage sitting still without disrupting others. So let's be clear. Children don't fit well in classrooms that are one size supposed-to-fit all.

On Thursday I talked with my great nephew Knox about his schooling. As a very bright boy he would find school to be very boring but for being recognized as "gifted" and being assigned a mentor who listens to his interests and helps design lessons specific to what he wants most to learn. But then, this raises the question, are not all children "gifted" and talented in one way or another? Perhaps with individually assigned mentors or smaller class sizes we'd find out.

On the other hand, there are two things standing in the way of greater educational success, each of these well proven by research. Poverty is the greatest obstacle standing in the way of student success, and it should come as no surprise that my great nephew Knox, comes from a family that gives him full support and total love. Gifted kids come from families like his that offer attention and support.

The other obstacle is class size. Teachers with 25 to 30 kids in a class are incapable of knowing their students' interests or exact level of development and thus must force engagement through other means.  They command, "Sit still kids." When sitting still is not what their minds, and bodies need. Don't you remember the figits from when you were a kid?

So these are two things to fix. Poverty and class size. Shouldn't we be talking about these two things? And of course the third point is the hands. Students should be engaged in project based learning through which their hands are engaged in doing real things. The value of doing real things is far greater than cramming useless information into the brain that will be quickly forgotten

Today my elementary students will be making toy cars and trucks. My middle school students will be making canes for the elderly. My high school students will be working on their longboards.

The photo is for my friend Bob whose shop I visited last week, and for whom I tried to explain my method for attaching the ESSA compound miter saw to dust collection. A picture is worth far more than a thousand words. It is great fun to visit other woodworker's shops and seeing how they've solved problems common to us all.

Make, fix and create...

1 comment:

  1. Doug, you would enjoy reading The End of Average by Todd Rose. The book accurately describes exactly what you are talking about here regarding the individual talents of children.