Wednesday, July 06, 2022

A crystal clear explanation of the value of Sloyd

Today I'm sitting on the front porch, waiting for the heat of the day to drive Rosie and I inside. We've some serious play to do first. 

In the shop, I've about 4 small projects going at once, in an attempt to clear the decks for new work. There are very clear reasons why all schools should have wood shops and other means for students to learn directly from life. The following is from William James.
"The most colossal improvement which recent years have seen in secondary education lies in the introduction of manual training schools; not because they will give us a people more handy and practical for domestic life and better skilled in trades, but because they will give us citizens with an entirely different intellectual fiber. 
 "Laboratory work and shop work engender a habit of observation. They confer precision; because, if you are doing a thing, you must do it definitely right or definitely wrong. They give honesty; for, when you express yourself by making things, and not by using words, it becomes impossible to dissimulate your vagueness or ignorance by ambiguity. They beget a habit of self-reliance, they keep the interest and attention always cheerfully engaged, and reduce the teacher's disciplinary functions to a minimum" -- William James

You can dissect what William James says in these short two paragraphs and see clearly where American education errs. The idea that teachers are to have a "disciplinary function" is somewhat terrifying, as it makes the assumption that kids will be unruly, and of course they will be if restrained against their will in activities that fail to capture their interests.

We are needing a major new investment in schools and in teachers, unless we are wanting to create a society in which people are led like sheep and controlled to serve a powerful elite. We are needing to create a society like James describes as having an "entirely different intellectual fiber." But don't hold your breath waiting for it.  Act as follows:

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


  1. Anonymous9:42 PM

    Hi Doug, thank you for running this blog and sharing your thoughts. May I ask where the quotation of William James has been taken from? Thank you very much indeed. Peer, Berlin, Germany

  2. Peer, the quote is from Talks to Teachers on Psychology.