Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Neurophysiologist Professor Matti Bergström states:

"The brain discovers what the fingers explore... If we don't use our fingers, if in childhood we become "finger blind", the rich network of nerves is impoverished - which represents a huge loss to the brain and thwarts the individual's all round development. If we neglect to develop and train our children's fingers and the creative form building capacity of the hand muscles, then we neglect to develop their understanding of the unity of things; we thwart their aesthetic and creative powers. Those who shape our age old traditions always understood this. But today Western civilization, an information obsessed society that overvalues science and undervalues true worth, has forgotten it all. We are value-damaged"

So, the concept of finger blind is easy to get, at least for those of us who work with our hands. What is meant by "values damaged?" A healthy individual or a healthy society works on a broad range of values that must be considered in the process of decision making. Those values are diverse and often in conflict, but lead to an exchange of ideas resulting in thoughtful action. Those who are values damaged see only one side of an issue and act from a perspective that can be best described as narrow minded. Single issue voting blocks are one example. Sometimes the worst values damage is related to the monetary value of objects. Those who have become fixated on money will look at a beautifully crafted object only in terms of its price, supply vs. demand and scarcity, seeing nothing of its beauty, historical significance or the significant growth that took place in the life of its maker that resulted from his or her efforts to create.

The loss of the hand's role in education results in flat people, thinly dimensional, with little depth of real character or aspiration beyond their very narrow range of interest. Those who know nothing of the significance of their own hands won't get what I'm talking about. Those of you who do understand are also empowered to do something about it.

Today we took our hand made looms and weavings to visit a professional weaver, Eleanor Lux in her studio in Eureka Springs. It was a wonderful visit and the students were very pleased to receive Eleanor's commendations on their beginning work. Some of the students have been working on their weavings during recess and had a lot to show. Eleanor showed the students how to spin yarn and how to weave on the various looms in her studio. It made for a wonderful morning.

3 comments:

  1. I wonder if you could help me, I am trying to get hold of some of Professor Bergstrom's published papers to add to the literature review of my degree dissertation. I am using it to suggest that teaching children to knit helps with retention of core learning and generally improves behaviour. Unfortunately apart from coming across his theories and writing briefly in other articles every online and library search I have undertaken looking for his work has hit a wall. I'm very near my deadline now & really need his work to help explain what is meant by finger blindness and who teaching a practical skill can help a child to learn. Thanking you in advance Sandra

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  2. I am uncertain how to help you. Unfortunately, most of his writings have been in Finnish, and I don't think very much of what he wrote has been translated. Dr. Bergstrom died last summer at the age of 92. I had tried to correspond with him a few years back, and never got a response.

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    1. Thank you for getting back to me so quickly, I had a horrible feeling that was going to be the can. I could cheerfully say some very rude words right now :-). From what little of his work I have come across he was perfect as a published expert to quote for my dissertation. He also proved what I have been saying for years and finally gave me the terminology to help me explain. I'm dyslexic,dyspraixc with mild ADHD & autistic tendencies and have been learning needle-crafts since I was about 4. Being able to create with my hands was & is the best skill my Nan and Mother taught me, it's saved my sanity and me from damaging other countless times. It's a pity I can't introduce others to his theories. Again thank you

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