Monday, September 21, 2020

The school of tomorrow, today

Readers of Popular Woodworking Magazine will find an excerpt from my new book The Guide to Woodworking With Kids in the November issue that should be arriving in their homes any day now. Note the title of the article, please.

The following is from John Dewey's book, The Schools of Tomorrow, 1915.

"... In schools where the children are getting their knowledge by doing things, it is presented to them through all their senses and carried over into acts; it needs no feat of memory to retain what they find out; the muscles, sight, hearing, touch, and their own reasoning processes all combine to make the result part of the working equipment of the child. Success gives a glow of positive achievement; artificial inducements to work are no longer necessary, and the child learns to work from love of the work itself, not for a reward or because he is afraid of a punishment. Activity calls for the positive virtues—energy, initiative, and originality—qualities that are worth more to the world than even the most perfect faithfulness in carrying out orders. The pupil sees the value of his work and so sees his own progress, which spurs him on to further results. In consequence his mistakes do not assume undue importance or discourage him. He can actively use them as helps in doing better next time. Since the children are no longer working for rewards, the temptation to cheat is reduced to the minimum. There is no motive for doing dishonest acts, since the result shows whether the child has done the work, the only end recognized. The moral value of working for the sake of what is being done is certainly higher than that of working for rewards; and while it is possible that a really bad character will not be reformed by being placed in a situation where there is nothing to be gained excepting through an independent and energetic habit of work, the weak character will be strengthened and the strong one will not form any of those small bad habits that seem so unimportant at first and that are so serious in their cumulative effect."

Why do educational policy makers insist on ignoring that which we all know to be true? Is the purpose of schooling to lift each child, or to subdue them, or to only lift those who are properly subdued? Bob Dylan had written about being "bent out of shape by society's pliers." Was he thinking of school when he wrote that line?

Make, fix and create....

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