Balancing Head Work and Hand Work

In her Synapse post, Alex Ellison (founder of DunceLabs) questions what would happen if more AP students learned a trade. At Taylor County Schools in Campbellsville Kentucky (the subject of the book) every student is required to declare a career by their junior year.

The purpose is the same, although the method is somewhat different.

  • There is a balance to be achieved between academics (head work) and skills (hand work). My wife and I owned and operated an organic farm for ten years. During that time I also worked as a planner for a large public school district. Modulating between the harvest of vegetables and flowers and the calculation of student assignments was not only exhilarating, but also made me better at both.
  • Many students learn through connecting the what to the why. Having a career direction to apply the knowledge, makes knowledge acquisition practical and far more interesting particularly for those with limited attention spans.
  • Creativity is enhanced when there is an opportunity to move between head work and hand work. “Unconscious ideation” is what Koestler called it. Eureka moments don’t often happen at your desk.

The more I read and learn from education literature, the more I am impressed by what is happening under the leadership of Roger Cook and his team in Kentucky. I am profoundly grateful to have been able to describe their work in Every Child, Every Day.

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