Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Skills- full.

I've just been reading the latest issue of Natural Life (Jan/Feb 2009) and there's an article in there by a man who bemoans the fact that he has all this education but very little skills-by this he means hands on, practical 'doing and making stuff,' know how.
Like this author, too many of us have passed and are passing through the hallowed halls of public school and post secondary institutions, longing to know more hands on skills, to create with our hands, to be skillful in other more tangible ways.
Every so often, i get the very strong urge to make something. A bowl. A sweater. A solid wood wardrobe. I yearn to know more about medicinal plants that grow in my backyard, how to grow my own vegetables (in my own homemade greenhouse). And so, this year, rather than urging my daughters to "gain skills, gain skills," (as I regularly do) I have set my own skill- gaining goals.
If only I could have saved time and learned useful things during my 'educational career.' Now I have to play catchup.
Too often teachers teach subjects that they know very little about, or worse don't care much about. Read this entertaining excerpt from Deschooling Our Lives : The Intimate and the Ultimate by Vinoba Bhave p19
A young man said that he wished to do some good work for society. "Tell me ," I said,"what kind of work do you feel you could do well?"
"Only teaching I think," replied the young man. "I can't do anything else, I can only teach...I feel sure I could do it well."
"Yes, yes, I do not doubt that, but what are you going to teach? Spinning? Carding? Weaving? could you teach these?"
No, I can't teach those."
"Then tailoring, or dyeing, or carpentry?"
"No, I don't know about them."
"Perhaps you could teach cooking, grinding and other household skills?"
"No, I have never done any work like that. I can only teach..."
"My dear friend,you answer "No' to every question and you keep saying you can only teach. What do you mean? Can you teach gardening?"
The would be teacher said rather angrily, "Why do you ask me this?....I can teach only literature."
"Good! Good! I am beginning to understand now.You mean you teach people to writer books like Tagore and Shakespeare?"
This made the young man so angry that he began to splutter. "Take it easy," I laughed. "Can you teach patience?"
That was too much......
"I know what you mean," I said. "You can teach reading, writing, history and geography. Well, they are not entirely useless,...... Would you be willing to learn weaving?"
"I don't want to learn anything new now...."
To be "only a teacher" means to be: completely ignorant of any practical skill which might be useful in real life:incapable of learning anything new and indifferent towards any kind of craftsmanship: conceited: and buried in books. "Only teaching" means being a corpse cut off from life.


1 comment:

Ramon Thomas said...

This is what I concluded after listening to a ton of John Taylor Gatto audio and video interviews. You must do the things you are teaching. The moment you teach something you do not practise on a daily or at least weekly basis you are incongruous as a human being. And children pick that up instantly.

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