Monday, February 02, 2015


We know that the hands are marvelous sensing devices that have so far been impossible to perfectly replicate by artificial means. Just to be clear, the word artificial means of course, through the arts or by artifice, or by the makings of man. There is a difference between artifice and pretense and we know that humans tend to know the difference and are more deeply engaged when given the opportunity to do real things. Schooling can take on more of the character of pretense, or of being faked or staged, and thence loses student engagement and participation.

The term "hands-on," takes a broader meaning, as a description of one's overall physiological engagement in the process of learning. So, in other words, if your whole body is engaged, and you are physically engaged in doing real things, in real places, and for real purposes, the activity can be described as hands-on. Just in case you were wondering, it is possible to be hands-on even in the absence of real hands.

I bring this up because there are some people, who, due to circumstances, are missing a hand or hands, and the loss offers profound insight into these most instructional of devices.

One of my favorite reads in the realm of the hands is by Ethel J. Alpenfels in Artificial Limbs, May 1955, THE ANTHROPOLOGY AND SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE HUMAN HAND.

There is a clear connection between the growth in understanding of the hand, and the humanitarian response to loss of these primary tools of human engagement in real things.

e-Nabling the Future is an organization of volunteer makers and research and development specialists engaged in the making of prosthetic hands for free distribution to those in need. At Clear Spring School, and in partnership with e-Nabling the Future, we are moving toward an experiment printing our first artificial hand.

Make, fix and create...

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