Ann Sayre Wiseman

Learning by Doing

This is an exerpt from The Best of Making Things – A Handbook for Creative Discovery by Ann Sayre Wiseman.

The phenomenon of of learning belongs to the child, not to the teacher.  We do not teach a child to walk – one of many skill potentials in all beginners.  At best, we stimulate discovery, desire, and curiosity; encourage and whet the appetite; provide space; and anticipate readiness to exercise the inevitable.

Learning by experience is profound knowledge, more deeply recorded in the memory than theory or speculation.  The most direct, immediate, and satisfying path to knowledge is visual and manual experience linked with the urgency of interest.
Learning by doing connects products with ideas and history.  It breeds creative thinking, self-expression, and originality, the confidence to experiment, and the courage to make mistakes, learn control, and perfect skills.

This colllection of discoveries and resources is a careful selection of simple and important concepts that have shaped the cultures of the world.  These activities should help to seed and develop natural curiosity and self-esteem.  The projects are explained in pictures so that children just starting out and grown-ups who have missed out can quickly grasp the ideas.

Parents and teachers hold the success of children in their tone of voice and generosity of understanding.  By encouraging self-discovery, by respecting originality and individualism, we avoid the preoccupation with competition, allowing students to progress at their own pace.  Creativity is the birthright of all children.  Let us foster it rather than cramp or nip it in its most eager time for learning.

Satisfy the Image

A Harvard student from Australia happened to sign up for a workshop I was teaching at the Cambridge Cen- ter for Adult Education. He said, “This work you do in dreams and psychotherapy is more interesting than all the psychology courses I’ve been taking at Harvard. I’d like my professor to see what you do.” So I was invited to lead a workshop at Harvard. The professor asked what books I was using, what theory?

“No books, no theory—just common sense and the wisdom of the dream, the power of peoples’ images. We simply ‘satisfy the image.’”

“Well, that isn’t going to make much sense to Academe is it?” he says.

“No. I guess not. It is not a theory; it is an experience.”

I am often asked, “Are you a Jungian? A Rogerian? An Adlerian?” No. You are the system. You are the method. It’s the doing that heals, creates change, and en- lightens. Only when you experience it will you really know it. It is the “Aha!” method.