Sunday, March 03, 2013

brain, hands and body...

It seems that as we've become more sedentary, we've become less intelligent as well. Researchers have noticed the close relationship between development of the body and development of the brain. That may be partly why Finland Schools are tops in the International PISA tests, far surpassing American schools in reading, science and math. Finland as a nation  is committed to physical education. They devote more hours to PE and recess than any other nation in Europe. And their test scores tell that story. We, on the other hand, try to take a more direct approach, force feeding reading and math whether kids are ready or interested or not. Then we test them with obsession to see if anything that we hurled at them stuck.

There is a well established link between the monkey bars (brachiation) and the child's readiness to read. Another classic technique to determine reading readiness was for the teacher to observe whether or not a child could skip.  The intraparietal sulcus is the part of the brain that controls both the movement and sensing of fingers, and also the ability to count and perform math. So you might observe that the education o the mind is best arranged through the actions of the body.  I think most of us can understand the importance of children making beautiful and useful objects and performing instrumental music and having the hands engaged in doing real things. That which we learn hands on is learned to greatest lasting effect.

At some point researchers will turn greater attention to the hands and discover that the brain became what it is because we have hands, and that the use of the hands is required for the full growth and development of each child. In American schools, as we impose stillness on the hands we retard the development of intellect.

I am still pursuing the origins of the x: x+/- 2 design principle which I mentioned in a late afternoon post. Besides common photo sizes, the rule applies to other things, like rooms, and rugs (check sizes). Again, common rectangular sizes whether inches or feet are 5 x 7, 6 x 8,  7 x 9 and 8 x 10.  In room sizes the formula jumps up to 10' x 12', 12' x 14', 14' x 16' and each can still be expressed as formula x +/- 2. Is there some magic in +/- 2? While I doubt that the various rectilinear shapes developed by the formula actually present greater beauty than other shapes, there seems to be convenience in it, and perhaps comfort in its non-squareness. And if a simple formula makes box making choices easier to make, leading to more beautiful boxes being made by craftsmen, and more fun being had, use it and see what you get. The tea boxes shown in the photos above are 7 3/4  in. x 9 3/4 in., as fine a proportion as any and again adhere to the design rule x:x +/- 2.

To show how little human beings have changed in the last 50 years, pay attention to sugar, fat and salt... three important parts of nutrition that were once scarce (hence the constant cravings) and now may be the death of us, unless we act forcefully against our own innermost inclinations.

Make, fix and create...

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