Saturday, March 17, 2012

allowing children to do real things...

Yesterday on All Things Considered, NPR, jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer was interviewed about the physicality of music. Vijay Iyer: The Physical Experience of Rhythm
Iyer has been obsessing for the past decade about listening to what his hands do with the piano — the physical actions that he sees as part of the process of making his music.

"To me, they're gestures, physical gestures," he says. "I hear the sweep of a hand in those shapes ... I'm interested in the interface between the hands and these abstract ideas."
"The way we perceive rhythm is by imagining ourselves moving, or another body moving in the same way," he says. "There is really a primal connection between music and the body. We tend to think of music as something we come to — I think the real insight that this concept brings to us is that music is us."
Iyer was heading for a life in science. He studied math and physics at Yale, got a masters in physics and was working on his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. Then he realized his real love was music, and his Ph.D. turned into the study of music perception and cognition.
You can listen to the the interview through the link above.

American education seems designed to compete with the natural inclinations of the body, to move, stretch, engage in rhythm, but if we were to deliberately re-engage the bodies of our nation's youth, in schools, we would find their minds devoted too, in full measure.

Bodies and hands in wood shop are much like fingers on the keys of the piano. We make sounds and gestures that are translated into wooden form. There are so many ways that children naturally express themselves, and express learning, and yet, we have become obsessed that they express their learning through standardized tests that are contrived for no purpose other than for administrators and politicians to control what happens in schools. Haven't we learned better than that yet? Learning is the child's most natural inclination and yet through our contrivances we've made that learning difficult and ineffective.

There are many wonderful ways to get children engaged in doing real things. These object lessons don't require parental or teacher expertise. They do require the decision to take matters into one's own hands. Planting a garden is a great example. This is the season to do so. A bit of hand work, the thing is planted. Watering and weeding are required. But these things are opportunities for engagement, and draw the child into an understanding of their own power to do real things.

Make, fix and create...

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