“An enactive approach to learning” – Gido Broers
Initially, it was difficult to understand exactly what Nathalie Sinclair was talking about in her seminar, which was called “Multiplication as Experience: Whitehead, aesthetics and gesture-based, touchscreen technology”. It took some time before I realized that the educational tool that Sinclair proposed – TouchTimes, a touchscreen application with which young children practice the skill of multiplying – is not only about the concept ‘multiplication’; it is an example of an embodied approach towards knowledge production and understanding. This application that Sinclair showed makes young children explore what multiplication entails, without focusing on the outcome of this multiplication. Sinclair explained that the app does several things on a ‘pre-conscious’ level; it generates amongst other things a feeling about two sides, holding something, cause & effect, power relations, hierarchy, difference and rhythm. I would claim that because of these different feelings that you would normally not think of in relation to the skill of multiplying and the children’s ability to interact with the app, they experience that multiplication is not a fixed thing; it is in that sense enactive. This notion of enacting in relation to education is a crucial aspect in a child’s development.
When children at the very beginning of their educational life are made aware that there is no such thing as fixed knowledge and that they are encouraged to explore and learn for themselves, I think this will be very fruitful for their further career. As Sinclair mentioned, by referring to philosopher Steven Shaviro’s article “Pulses of Emotion: Whitehead’s ‘Critique of Pure Emotion’” (2012), young children should “not only be focusing on what has already been experienced, felt, selected and determined”, but also play an active role in this process of determination and selection themselves. In this way, they become more than just passive recipients of the knowledge that is given to them by teachers. They are invited to enact their own potential and are through an application like TouchTimes also physically engaged in this process of enacting.
- Shaviro, Steven. 2007. “Pulses of Emotion: Whitehead’s ‘Critique of Pure Emotion’”. Accessed on 20 December 2018, http://www.shaviro.com/Othertexts.
- Featured Image: Courtesy of Nathalie Sinclair