Monday, April 08, 2013

sfwg and home...

I had a great second day of class with the South Florida Woodworking Guild, and then caught an afternoon flight to Dallas and was home at midnight. It made for a long day, and after today's classes with Clear Spring School kids I'm worn out. I don't know how I could  find a finer group of children to teach. They are so excited about what they are learning. I could hardly get the morning classes to end. They would work right through lunch if I would allow it. And the kids really do seem to have a great sense of appreciation for the opportunity wood shop provides.

This morning the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students began making shields, an idea proposed by Hawk. When I told him a shield would be something he could make at home, he insisted that it should be done at school so that he could share the experience with friends. But once he had gotten started, he insisted that he get to take his home to work on. Once he'd gotten started, how could he stop?

Have you not had that experience yourself?

I flew home last night next to a young man who is doing medical research on aging and we fell into an easy and stimulating conversation abut the hands. It was a pleasure to see such open minded enthusiasm. I was reminded by our conversations that the hands actually direct the formation of neural pathways essential to staying young in both body and mind. This .pdf describes a program of pen making with the elderly that has had profound effects, easing the burden of alzheimer's.

I am in a rather unique position. I was able to take a relatively early interest in my own hands and how they function in relation to thought, and because of that I offer hypotheses that make sense to me. If we look from the brain to the hands we might get one view, but if we look from the hands to the brain we see other things. The use of the body, and particularly new, and refined uses of the body, particularly involving the hands, furthers the development of new neural pathways and connections in the brain. Research shows a refinement of those natural neural networks as skill and expertise are achieved. My suspicion is that even when the elderly are pushed toward some form of steady refinement in hand skills, there are realignment of neural networks, and lines of thought potentials within the brain that are essential to mental health as we age. Learning to do new things with the body drives a realignment of connections and pathways, that may actually forestall the aging process.

This is not a new subject in the blog. I write about the same things over and over again, each time finding new connections. On the same subject more or less, readers will find this interesting: On the other hand. Can changing the pencil from the right to the left hand actually reconnect access to information inaccessible moments before? Susan Goldin Meadow in her research tells that shaking our hands in the air can help to shake up and stimulate our processes of thought. Her research shows that gesture can be used to not only better understand what we are trying to say, but how we actually feel and think, giving a viewer unexpected access to the processes of a person's thoughts that even that person may not be aware of him or her self.

Make, fix and create...

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