Wednesday, December 07, 2011

the hand, primatology and anthropology

Hand author Frank Wilson introduced me to Mary Marzke (via email) and she is one of the world's foremost authorities on the evolution of tools and adaptive use of the hands. It is an exciting connection for me. I suggested to Mary that:
"One of the things we need to be thinking about is how the hands interface physical reality in partnership with the eye. The paper (I referenced in the blog yesterday) notes that the finger tips are good at sensing texture and temperature, but not shape. The back and forth rubbing motion of fingers is used in the manipulation of tablets which offer no discernible texture. Are we ignoring other important hand senses in our and our children's engagement with reality by giving them a steady diet of digital devices? The hands and eyes work in partnership. When flat screens meet iPads and we fail to engage the hands in the sensing of weight, scale and shape, what other things are we failing to offer?

There are tests that they give students to determine IQ, asking how is this shape different or the same in comparison to other shapes. I strongly suspect that that sensitivity to shape, and ability to interpret the meaning of shaped objects is related not only on the seeing of shape, but related also to the catalog of ideas of shape that have arrived within the brain by the handling of those shapes. It would be interesting to prove it."
This idea presents some interesting research opportunities that Dr. Marzke says she will present to colleagues engaged in study with chimps.

Another thing that I shared with her that she thought would be useful for an upcoming speech was the role of kindergarten and play with kindergarten objects in the personal intellectual development of Buckminster Fuller and Frank Lloyd Wright.

I am hoping that Dr. Marzke can help me with a question I've been wrestling with... the development of the handle. It was suggested by V.G. Childe and others that while the making of tools goes back over 2.5 million years, the application of the handle came only 35,000 years ago, corresponding with an explosion of brain development and vastly increasing the power and range of our tools. This virtual explosion of intellect, came as man was able to use metaphor to apply the notion of the handle to an ever increasing and widening array of instruments. It may not describe a causal relationship between the hand and the development of mind, but may add evidence to the discussion of whether the explosion in brain capacity came as a result of language use, or tool usage. It also makes a difference whether we think of metaphor as a widely applied human capacity or just a word game.
"The act of imagination is the opening of the system so that it shows new connections. Every act of act of imagination is the discovery of likenesses between two things which were thought unlike. An example is Newton’s thinking of the likeness between the thrown apple and moon sailing majestically in the sky. Hence, the ‘discovery’ of the laws of gravity." — Jacob Bronowski

In the wood shop today at Clear Spring School, first, second and third grade students will make decorative Christmas trees in preparation for the holiday season.

Make, fix and create...

No comments:

Post a Comment