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The Levan Institute Lecture — Prof. Sara Atwood: "'From the king's son downwards': Modern Education and the Wisdom of the Hands"

“‘From the King’s son downwards’: Modern Education and the Wisdom of the Hands

During the 1990s, a calculated process of ‘de-skilling’ was aimed at preparing students for employment in the ‘information age,’ in which technology would supersede hand work. Today, this deliberately-imposed division between thinking and doing has only widened. This is of course a false and artificial division that ignores the vital importance of tactile learning—an essential element of education that complements, extends, and enriches academic study. The rejection of hand work is related to our utilitarian, market-driven educational model and to our faith in the power of technology. Ruskin proposed an alternative, integrative program of education in which intellectual, manual and ethical elements combine to form men and women capable of seeing the world around them clearly, governed by affection and fellowship, and well-fitted to work towards “a better world than this.” Today, our preoccupation with how to educate—with curricula, standards, targets, content delivery, and assessment—has skewed our understanding of why we educate. Sara Atwood will discuss the importance of hand work in education and the negative effects of its absence in modern mainstream schooling.

Co-sponsored by the Ruskin Art Club and the Levan Institute for Humanities and Ethics at the University of Southern California.

Lunch will be provided.