Thursday, April 28, 2016

The metaphoric mind...

It would be convenient from an administrative point of view to think of the human mind as linear in its growth just as the dominance of the left brain building activities in schooling demands. (All the little children sitting passively at their desks, quiet, orderly, with the teacher in full control of their little minds.) My daughter is working on her grad school thesis to finish her masters in education and is interested in finding research that supports hands-on learning. At this point she has had experience in two schools, one that supports project based learning, and the other that did not.

Can you see how my mind just leaped from one thing to another and that these thoughts might be related, and that if we fail to investigate such relationships, we've failed to fully engage the powerful resources of mind?

It would be convenient in planning schooling to think of kids (as did Piaget) growing steadily and in order from one stage to another as though teaching has little to do with the arrival of student's rational minds. But teaching (and style of teaching) has a lot to do with it, and Piaget was looking primarily at the development of the rational mind, not the creative one, and not the one that engages the power of metaphor to thrust both the individual mind and human culture forward in leaps and bounds. The following is from Barbara Clark's Growing up Gifted:
It has been pointed out that what Piaget is really describing is the development of only one of our mind styles, the linear logical style of the left hemisphere. Also, the descriptors Piaget uses are valid only in cultures that have placed their emphasis on linear-logical thought processes. What about our other mind, the metaphoric, intuitive, holistic mind valued by Einstein, Bruner, da Vinci, Salk, and a myriad of other creative thinkers who have changed our culture? Samples (1975) suggests a hierarchy of metaphoric modes within which students at any age have the ability to perform. Through the use of these modes students were found to develop more comfort and ability in exploring concepts, ideas and processes in rational ways. The first, the Symbolic Metaphoric Mode, exists when either an abstract or a visual symbol is substituted for an object, process, or condition. By making the visual symbolism available, understanding can be achieved even by those not as adept at deriving meaning from abstract symbolism that is, by drawing or sculpting an idea one may understand the meaning and express it through the written word.
Do you have any ideas how the other mind with these other capacities might be engaged and nourished? Music would be one, art another. If you want to go off the deep end (relative to what's happening in most schools, consider wood shop.

As to my daughter's question there is actually very little direct research into the value of hands-on learning. All the great educational theorists proclaim its value, which the administrators and policy makers thence ignore. One bit of interesting research comes from Purdue.

I am trying to get my school wood shop in order for the end of the school year, and am working on box guitars, making necks. The photo above shows a peg head made to fit dulcimer/ukulele style tuning pegs.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others the love of learning likewise.

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