Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A good friend of mine sent me the following comment on last night's post:

I think today's news is a result of too many video games, and too much violence on TV and in movies. I have heard people say they don't think these things affect people, but I disagree. I think if your hands concept were put to use a little more, there would be more people doing things that mean something rather than spending time playing games that don't have any consequence. But I do think that you are coming at this concept from an artist's perspective, and that some people can't relate to doing anything with their hands at all. John has had printing students who just couldn't function to stack the type up in the stick. They just couldn't make their hands do things the way they were told to do it. He had to re-train some of them each time they would come back. Since it's easy for you, you assume anyone can learn it and that's not always the case.

I want to thank my friend for her thoughtful response. It is through observation of ourselves and dialog with others that we gain greater insight.

In The Sloyd System of Wood Working (1892) by BB Hoffman, Superintendent of the Baron De Hirsch Fund Trade Schools in New York City, Hoffman quoted an unidentified writer’s view which may help to explain why some adult students may be lacking in hand skills.

“As the development of the motor centers in the brain hinges, in a great degree upon the movements and exercises of youth, it will be readily understood how important is the nature of the part played by the early exercise of the hand. There can be no doubt that the most active epoch in the development of these motor centers is from the fourth to fifteenth year, after which they become comparatively fixed and stubborn. Hence it can be understood that boys and girls whose hands have been left altogether untrained up to the fifteenth year are practically incapable of high manual efficiency thereafter.”

The addictive qualities of gaming are related to the direct hard wiring between the hand and brain. We will never stop using our hands for something. Use of our hands is nearly essential to our being human. It comes down to a question, "for what?" Do we use our hands sharpening our knives for the kill, to polish the guns, or to knit, garden, sew, paint, shape wood, and play music? Could we spend our time developing creative skills that can be shared with others? It might be nice. It might be smart. It might make our schools safe and our lives more meaningful.

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