Sunday, June 20, 2010

On the one hand and the other

Richard Bazeley, Shop teacher extraordinaire from down under, suggested the following link to an interview with Dr Iain McGilchrist, writer and psychiatrist on his new book The Master and his Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. The interview can be heard on Australian Broadcast Company. It appears that our divided society, with a few grasping the value of hand skills, and most not, parallels what happens in our own brains. While most argue that thought is a word thing, and some would argue otherwise, to believe that all thought is founded on human discursive abilities comes at the cost of marginalizing half of humanity, half of ourselves. Make, make, make. You will discover your missing half and be much happier for it.

I find this discussion of the left and right hemispheres of the brain interesting in part because all the early educational theorists emphasized balanced development of mind and body... not just mind and body equally, but more. Otto Salomon believed that the use of gymnastics could help to overcome the imbalance brought on by handedness, regardless of whether the right or left hand was dominant. He had attempted experiments to get children to use both hands in their work, but those experiments were abandoned as he realized it was too difficult to get children to use their unfamiliar hand. Nevertheless, he designed sloyd exercises with the full body/mind in mind. In the Theory of Educational Sloyd, he devoted chapter XI to the "Uniform Development of the Physical Faculties."

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