Saturday, August 23, 2008

The drawing below is from RJ Drillis' paper Folk Norms and BioMechanics and illustrates that all tools found their origins within the mechanics of the human hand.
But what about the computer? Have you ever counted on your fingers? Or have you ever planned an activity that requires more than two steps? As a teacher of box making, students often ask me about my "order of operations," the precise sequence of steps required to make a box.

Essentially, a computer is a device based on an if-then order of operations originally derived from the numeric arrangement of the human hands, the framework for systematic engagement and measurement of reality made available to our species by having five fingers on each hand.

Do you have doubts? Next time you plan something, take note of your fingers. If you plan something that involves more than two or three steps, take note of what happens to your hands. Do your fingers automatically count the steps? I can tell you with absolute certainty, that even if your fingers don't twitch on their own in response to your scheming, the parts of the brain that control them, if they were observed on MRI would be blazing in light.

These thoughts were no-brainers for those who grew up in an earlier age, but have become significant now while we have largely excluded the hands from our children's exploration and discovery of concrete reality.

The problems are particularly acute for boys in America. We give them games and laptops when we should be giving them hammers and nails and saws. We give them iPods and cell phones at ever earlier ages, when they would best learn from whittling with a knife.

Richard Bazeley sent the photo below along with a quote from one of his students, "I sat outside on a couple of nights and talked to the dogs while I sanded it smooth." The blocks shown are from a project where students are making toys for the town playgroup.

No comments:

Post a Comment