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Lesson Plans


Re: WHY JOHNNY CAN' DRAW...

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
henry taylor (taylorh)
Sat, 17 Jul 1999 17:54:15 -0700


Neat Woody!

>> "Hand a brush to a Japanese or Chinese child and their brain shifts into
>> the same modality as is used for writing and language. A very different
>> experience for the non-asian child who is all prepared only to "make
marks"

I was thinking that Bob and I were limiting ourselves to children in those
countries.

>> It is to a great extent a function of which side of the brain is in gear.
To
>> digress, this is in large part due to the fact that the language of
infancy,
>> childhood and the home is a "tonal" language (with rising and falling
tones).
>> As with music the language development in "tonal" cultures resides in the
>> right side of the brain. Because they develop language in the same
hemisphere
>> that is used for drawing and spacial thinking, that side of the brain
becomes
>> dominate or at least more accessable.

Great addition to the thread! This gets me thinking about some of the data
in Jullian Jaynes work and of a study in which thermal PET scans were made
of native asians and anglo-north americans in the context of natural sounds.
The scans showed that the differ\ent groups processed the same sounds in
different parts of the brain. That anglo brain use made no distinction
between natural sounds and (I think) traffic noises while that asian brains
processed wind, bird sounds etc in the speech center. (Wernikes I think). It
is important to note here that it was never suggested that these
phisiological differences were evolutionary or racial in their origin but
always attributed to cultural learning. Woody's contribution of data on
tonality is especially neat in this context.

>>They may have never touched a calligraphy brush but they think with the
visual mode in
>> gear. But I believe it is so much more complex that just using the right
brain. So many
>> factors are in play.

This can't be stated often enough! It is so difficult if not impossible to
keep all the factors even just the known and suspected factors in play in an
analysis. Discipl;inary borders are being crossed right and left. And the
mind just isn't big enough sometimes to encompas the complexity of "things"
The distinction between art and science is artificial but the distinction
makes it easier to look at things in finer resolution and make finer and
finer distinctions. But Woody's right it is much much more complex.

>> Of course they come from cultures that teach by example and by
demonstration.

This is also important to note.This is the OLD way. Goes back as far as we
have evidence for. It's how things continue to be learned in the smallest
scale societies that still survive. It works! It also relys in spome part on
something other than a "youth culture." It's viable to argue that it is much
easier to teach by example when the learner's goal is to become the teacher.
When the child (as very young children still do) seeks to emulate the adult
and perdeives a value of becoming an elder. In a culture where 18 is what
everyone wants to be it's all in a cocked hat. "Wisdom" acquired through
(work) experience lacks value.and aquired experience is less valued than the
age-referenced "identity" experience. ("I can know this because I am still
young. You no longer have that access")

To some extent learning by example and demonstration (and then by doing)
still is very effective but I think I can find agreement that the younger a
student is the better this modality works... with the possible exception of
the focused student seeking demonstration and examples to follow.

>> They also are in a sink or swim situation in our schools, we give them
some help but
>> mostly we just let them tread water.

They are also in a family/cultural situation that values education and the
educated; and often makes a special space (desk etc) for the student in the
home and gives firm support for the traditional practices of studenting.For
a long time western culture has been schizoid on the subject of education as
suspicious of the clever or intelligent character in literature as it has
been respectful. There were a few years there where there was a "professor"
Muppet on Sesame Street who was the "compleat idiot" It's still not an
uncommon theme in northamerican children's entertainment

>> Most end up going into what
>> their families see as honorable professions, like Doctor, Lawyer, Etc. A
>> graduate (Vietnamese-american) of the Kansas City Art Institute came to
show
>> is paintings to my students and demonstrate watercolors. He explained to
me
>> that it was a real blow to his father that he decided to become an
artist.

Traditionally, classic model of the asian scholar has been a successful
businessman a poet and an artist all rolled together. It's no surprise that
parentrs hold that renaissance model in much esteem. The potential for
ECONOMIC success is a fundamental measure.

Good post woody!!!
-henry