16 November 2012

Yet another seredipidous quote

"It would be about time for folks at Harvard's Project Zero, the brainchild of Howard Gardner, to take an interest in the maker culture and in what making does to the mind and character of a child. They've done so in this article: Harvard Wants to Know: How Does the Act of Making Shape Kids’ Brains? Harvard most often takes interest in things when they've been invented by Harvard, or when the overwhelming evidence sweeps their minds into a corner. Howard Gardner in Project Zero came up with the idea of multiple intelligences, which would have been a thing any machinist or wood worker would have understood beforehand, hands down, and could have told about if asked. Still the idea of multiple intelligences can help us to be more cognizant of the value of doing real things. In the wood shop, a craftsman uses musical intelligence as he or she listens to the application of tool to wood, whether that tool is powered by hand or by the grid. The craftsman uses math, connection to culture, sense of partnership with others, sense of one's own body, and each and every known form of intellect specifically identified by Gardner, but without it having to be prescribed and identified. I think one term that Harvard would have trouble identifying would be the academic dumbass. We are diminished in character and in intellect when our hands are stilled. Put a man solely behind a desk, or at a lectern and without great effort to overcome his natural proclivities he will become out of touch. One of the precepts of Educational Sloyd was the movement in learning from the concrete to the abstract. But reality does not lose its meaning for the intellect once it has escaped into abstraction. Like a humming bird returning to the feeder, an active mind returns again and again to what's happening in the real world. That is why students and professors at all levels and in all disciplines should be making things (even unrelated to their fields of study) and engaged in field work and application of what they are in the process of learning to real life. Real life is not administered in doses, prescribed for specialties of learning and intelligence, as in Gardner's work. The failure of the multiple intelligences theory to be utilized in modern education results from the difficulty and complexity that each teacher faces in taking time to prescribe lessons personalized for the smarts of each child. The next thing of course for Harvard might be for Howard Gardner to discover a new form of human intelligence we can call, Maker Smart. The only thing is, however, maker smarts is not really a separate form any more than any of the others are, but rather, the summation of all other forms of human intelligence. There is a simple solution to the problem of education and the recognition of all forms of human intellect. Ask our students and teachers to do real things. Making things in a wood shop may be the best place to start." From "Wisdom of the Hands", the blog of Doug Stowe