Sunday, April 15, 2012

more on spatial sense...

Children, these days, are entered into the world of flat screen, two dimensional digital technology at an early age, while in an earlier time, children were deeply engaged in a three dimensional world, playing with blocks, scissors, folded paper and string and doing real rather than virtual things. Early introduction of digital technology makes children adept at moving icons around on flat screens. Blocks, scissors, paper and string lead to an understanding of the physical world in which children live. Parents naturally think that giving their children expensive devices is a great gift, when in fact, they might instead give them more valuable gifts and experience at far less cost.

One of the problems we have at Clear Spring School comes from the parents providing high tech devices to their kids without serious restrictions on their use. Too many hours of sleep lost in video gaming leads to poor attention, short tempers, situations arising that require staff time for conflict resolution and poor performance in school. Staff time could be just as easily and more pleasantly invested in those kids who come to school eager and ready to learn. Early introduction and unsupervised use of digital devices (and television) leads to neglect of other essential building blocks in the child's understanding of physical reality, and diminish the child's capacity for effective social engagement. One of our high school students finally decided on his own that the only way for him to catch up with his peers and graduate would be for him to go cold turkey on his Play Station II. Recognizing his own addiction, he surrendered it to friends with the instruction, "Please, don't let me see this thing again until after graduation." This decision came only when confronted with failure. But schooling would be so much better for all if such realizations could be made at the parental level and before the student faces school failure.

At Clear Spring School as in every school in the US, we face the challenge of bringing all parents and teachers to a better understanding of the appropriate introduction and use of technology. A reasonable approach is offered in this article on the use of computers in Waldorf Schools, which notes:
The primary reason that Waldorf schools do not use computers is our insistence that young children make contact with real people and real environments in order to build a base of real experience. Language skills, for instance, depend upon a responsive human being who listens, responds, and communicates feelings as well as content.
Readers may be interested in coming to a better understanding of spatial sense, and how it helps us to engage intelligently with real life. The book above can be accessed free on-line
Literacy in the classically linguistic sense means that someone can read, write, and speak in a language. Those abilities can be seen in all aspects of our existence: in spoken and written communications in everyday life, in the workplace, and in science. Spatial literacy follows a similar pattern: people draw upon their spatial knowledge, their repertoire of spatial ways of thinking and acting, and their spatial capabilities to solve problems in all aspects of their lives.
One of the ways to develop spatial sense and spatial literacy is to become engaged in woodworking. Another is music. Yet another is through 3-dimensional art. If we want our children to be real problem solvers (rather than virtual ones) we need to give them the necessary tools and experience, and here I'm not referring to Play Station II.

Make, fix and create..

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You (and I) may be waging a losing war, but if the next generation is going to be more than just a bunch of keyboard addicts, the message has to be heard. At the community college where I worked students who spend class time texting or reading their emails are always surprised when they do poorly on the midterm and final exams. I'm not at all surprised.