Saturday, February 01, 2014

the senses, apperception, the arts and science...

One of the things we can learn about the way children learn (if we pay attention) is that if they don't draw, they don't see as well as they might if they did. The mind sees things as a mixture of visual perception and symbolic interpretation. And it is the challenge of drawing with some degree of accuracy that brings a child to become an accurate observer whether in science or in the arts.

For instance Onfim's drawings of his family show huge hands and heads on much smaller torsos. His father's hands show extra fingers, and his own vision of himself as a powerful warrior on horseback is equal parts fantasy and visual illusion.
William James said the following about manual arts training...
“The most colossal improvement which recent years have seen in secondary education lies in the introduction of the manual training schools; not because they will give us a people more handy and practical for domestic life and better skilled in trades, but because they will give us citizens with an entirely different intellectual fibre. Laboratory work and shop work engender a habit of observation, a knowledge of the difference between accuracy and vagueness, and an insight into nature's complexity and into the inadequacy of all abstract verbal accounts of real phenomena, which once wrought into the mind, remain there as lifelong possessions. They confer precision; because, if you are doing a thing, you must do it definitely right or definitely wrong. They give honesty; for, when you express yourself by making things, and not by using words, it becomes impossible to dissimulate your vagueness or ignorance by ambiguity. They beget a habit of self-reliance; they keep the interest and attention always cheerfully engaged, and reduce the teacher's disciplinary functions to a minimum.

Of the various systems of manual training, so far as woodwork is concerned, the Swedish Sloyd system, if I may have an opinion on such matter”-- William James. “Talks To Teachers On Psychology; And To Students On Some Of Life's Ideals.”
Without experience in real life, folks can believe damn near anything they want, and can act on the basis of words in ways that present unforeseen and disastrous consequences. The skills of observation that result from training in the arts, offer increased capacity in the understanding of science. In the SWEPCO debacle, the power company has finally launched a public opinion survey by phone to learn whether or not we really care what they do to us. As though how we feel suddenly matters to them... I hope they are getting ready to pull the plug on their disastrous proposal. Needless to say, there is nothing they can do or say to set things right apart from abandoning the project and offering their deepest and most sincere apologies for having proposed it in the first place. Make, fix, create, and teach others to do so.

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