Sunday, July 28, 2013

the motor impulse...

A week or so ago, I was watching my two year old grand nephew as he put together a wooden train track. He would grab parts and attempt to fit them to each other, almost without looking at whether or not they would fit. Because he is at that stage where like is assumed to fit like, instead of reflecting that like must fit unlike, he struggled to get the parts of the track to fit. Children have what Robert Keable Row described as a "motor impulse". He said,
It is doubtful if the true significance of this impulse in the child has ever been fully appreciated in any scheme of formal education. In the fullness of the young child's activities it is obvious to the most casual observer that the sensori-motor forms largely predominate over the reflective. During his waking hours it is a matter of common remark that the child is never still a minute. We wonder at his endurance. Occasionally he stops to think, and gradually these partial inhibitions of the physical activity for the reflective become more and more frequent until in later life, with most persons, the reflective forms of activity exceed the sensori-motor.
He notes:
There will be from the first a small central core of reflective activity in a large medium of physical activity. In a normal development of the individual the reflective life will gradually enlarge and the sensori-motor modes of activity will relatively decrease. This does not mean that the two forms of activity are separate and independent. The fact is, they are inter-related and mutually dependent.
Certainly, this makes sense. You don't have to have a PhD in child psychology to observe what any mom, dad or great uncle can observe by watching a child at play and as he or she learns from that play. But what happens when children are forced to sit listening when their impulses are to act and learn from reflection on their own actions? And if we force children to be passive rather than active, as their impulses, inclinations and nature intend, what have we done to human culture?

Make, fix and create...

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