Saturday, December 04, 2021

let's notice a few things...

If we look at how we learn, we'll notice a few things that can be applied also to how other people learn and how education can be designed for greater efficacy. 

Adults and babies learn the same way. We listen, we watch what goes on around us. When we are able, we test what we see to ascertain the reality of that which surrounds us. Our hands are instrumental in this. Babies tend to learn a bit faster than the rest of us. By the time they're ready for school, they know a lot. And what they have learned provides a framework of experience against which to measure what they are being taught. And all the kids arriving at school at the same time will not know the same things, nor should they.  

That is what we are attempting to address through progressive education. There's a long legacy of progress in progressive education. I can describe its progress through a series of pioneers. You had Comenius, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Diesterweg, Dewey and the Clear Spring School, just to name a few in a healthy lineage. But progressive doesn't refer to progress, meaning the newest, "best" thing, but to the progressive and natural growth of the child.

Froebel, having been a mineralogist before becoming a teacher, had noticed how a crystal would grow from a design held within. So it is with a child. The job of a teacher in progressive education is not to force knowledge in, but to call what is inside into play and encourage growth, falling back to the original meaning of the word "education," "to draw forth."

One of the challenges that teachers perpetually face is the question, "what is your curriculum?" The word curriculum refers to a set of plans that are used to convey a sense of legitimacy to the teaching effort. But while it's important to have a plan, the most important part of the plan requires a willingness to abandon the plan when real needs are made clear to the teacher through listening to, observing and learning from actual students.

This is where the principles of Educational Sloyd fit in. They provide a framework for directing and assessing student growth, as well as a means to plan the educational experience. Want to know what comes next? Your observation of the child will be more meaningful than the lesson book.

For babies and adults alike, we start with the interests of the child and proceed from that point.

Make, fix and create...

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