I have a background first as a engineering metallurgist and then as an educator in museums and art galleries and then as a freelancer in the cultural heritage sector in the North East of England working variously as educator, researcher and project manager. At the moment, I’m working as a research associate for Media, Culture, Heritage at Newcastle University.
As an educator I did a lot of work doing object handling sessions using contemporary craft objects with primary-aged school children. More recently I have started to think about what it was that was actually happening when I put an object into a child’s hands.
This idea is heavily inspired by a paragraph describing what happens when a child is learning to play a musical instrument:
“Raw response to musical sounds begins in the auditory cortex, deep in the brain’s centre. People respond to physical sounds they hear principally in the subcortical structures of the brain: here, rhythm stimulates activity in the cerebellum. The capacity to process such information also has a neurological geography. The prefrontal cortex provides feedback on whether the hand has moved correctly; this is one neurological locations for the experience “It works!” Learning to read music engages the visual cortex. The emotions experienced in playing music and listening to music also have specific regions of the brain. Simpler responses excite the cerebellar vernis, more complicated responses the amygdala.”
Sennett, R. (2009) The Craftsman, London: Penguin Books, p. 274
I’d like to create a chronology / neural geography of the moment when a child takes hold of an object. I’ve come across work in areas such as neuroscience, cognition and childhood development which seemed to provide nuggets of information that I could but the information doesn’t necessarily come in the right sequence, so I thought I’d try using this blog as a way of gathering and sharing this information.
I hope to post some information I’ve already gathered and continue posting as new stuff comes along, commenting on it and (hopefully) tying it together as I go along.
Since starting this blog, I’ve become involved in work looking at a mixture of things (objects, reminiscence, storytelling and people with dementia). To a certain extent this bundle of ideas overlaps with the topics I was interested in, which is one of the reasons why I got involved, so later entries are more about dementia and the role of objects in the lives of older people.
Underlying all this is an assumption/hypothesis, which I am slowly developing, that if I can understand the role of objects in peoples lives across the course of their lives and then see how this intersects with the pathology of dementia, the impact of object handling will become clearer.