Monday, May 17, 2021

bridging the gap.

I'd written about this matter before. If the use of the hands makes you smart, then why are there so many folks at odds with those who attain advanced degrees? And the simple answer is that education often fails to bridge the gap between the concrete and the abstract. 

According to the theory of Educational Sloyd, education was to start with the interests of the child, then build from the known to the unknown,  from the easy to more difficult, from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. Launched from student interest and built through steady progression, education was to provide a firm foundation for exploration of the abstract. 

Imagine you are building a bridge from the concrete to the abstract. You start with a single line or cable and add comprehension step-by-step until the bridge is complete. Even the most obscure principles can be understood if the bridging is complete. Education that segments students into classes fails to build the proper foundation and builds barriers between social and economic classes.

What happens too often now is that children are thrown into abstraction without what Otto Salomon called "a firm foundation." The student may achieve understanding in narrow bounds and form judgements on what they consider the stupidity of others. The range of interest is narrowed, and complex subject matter is avoided.

A large part of the problem stems from the illusion that children can be successfully divided into classes based on age and taught together as classes without addressing individual student needs. This idea is not mine alone, but was discussed thoroughly in Salomon's "Theory of Educational Sloyd." But how can student growth be managed so each is allowed to arrive at highest potential and understanding? The family serves as an example: a group of kids, each at differing levels of maturity and interest, and yet with each encouraging the growth of each other, under the guidance of a mentor.

So for those looking for a model for education that sets things right, we need look no further than the 18th century when Pestalozzi wrote "How Gertrude Teaches Her Children" or the 19th century when Froebel invented Kindergarten, and Uno Cygnaeus and Otto Salomon invented Educational Sloyd. But then, how many in the halls of academia would consider they might learn important principles from the manual arts? Or why would anyone be willing to listen to a wood shop teacher with regard to reforming American education? You might be one of the first.

Even in my Rainbow Group (kindergarten) children arrive at school with a variety of prior experiences upon which to build learning. Some come from families where crafting is a regular activity. Some have never used a hammer before. Some readers wonder how we are willing to risk holding our fingers and thumbs so close  as our students hammer for the first time. We're brave.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

1 comment:

  1. The United States has done a bad job when it comes to presenting those in school with a unbaised view of work opportunities. Both desk and hand/trade jobs are needed. Both desk and hand/more manual jobs have opportunities to well or poorly.

    Not all are suited to working with their hands and not all are suited to working behind a desk. It would serve us well if schooling provided opportunities so that folks could explore different kinds of things to better help them sort up what they might want to do when they grow up.