Looking in greater detail..

For the Change by Design module we have continued researching and developing our ideas in response to the RSA brief  ‘In the Round’, from which we discussed ways of connecting young people with 3D objects. We thought of several ways we could accomplish this and decided we would spread an idea, a viral meme, with a ‘make your own’ instrument plan. This was a way of reconnecting children with the world and objects around them and removing them from their digital screens but exploiting the online world to spread the idea.  For assignment three we were asked to further research certain elements of our chosen product; I decided to focus my research on the potential benefits of this type of product; Improved spatial awareness, team building, ways to help understanding/following instructions and also ways of helping behavior problems in younger people and also the positive impact on a young teens social standing or mood. Using the Cross search method I came across a variety of books I found helpful but in particular; Emotional & Behavioural difficulties, Theory in Practice; Paul Cooper, Colin J. Smith and Graham Upton.

The book is fundamentally about alternative ways of education to motivate and communication with young troubled people; each chapter touches upon a different issue ranging from how teachers can affect performance, the stigma attached to troubled teens, seeing problems in context, the nature and developement of behavioural problems into the importance of relationships. All of these topics are vital and key to our ideas of spreading a viral meme.

The book discusses, which I think to be the most important issue, children with behavioural problems do not bring it on themselves they are usually in fact an outcome from a poor environment or lack the so easily overlooked acceptance and nurture teaching and home environments are meant to provide. When referring to troubled children they are exposed to the stigma of being ‘maladjusted children’, as they were categorised until 1981 Education Act, which reflects a perceptual model, a stereotype. The education system is full of these ‘maladjusted’ individuals and are singled out and segregated by their teachers either due to this stigma or the teacher is just not equipped or capable of controlling their students. Due to the changing perceptions of student versus teacher, student versus home life; the nature of the school system, and how its management may create rather than ameliorate difficulties in the learning and behaviour.  In 1945 being a maladjusted teen  was a category of handicap, maladjusted teens were those who ‘show emotional instability or psychological disturbance and require special educational treatment in order to effect their personal, social or educational readjustment’ (Laslett, 1983). This is something I strongly disagree with, the idea of sending a child to a special school will not heal any emotional damage or aid in any confidence building, if anything will add to their self-esteem issues and effect a future career or further education.

Another key chapter I found incredibly interesting as well as useful was the look into the importance of relationships in young developing minds. The author discusses the main corner stones of any healthy individual needing a strong and stable support network; family, friends and self-worth. Without any  of these features a child will struggle and could go on to develop coping mechanisms or even mental health issues such as Borderline personality disorder (BPD). BPD in particular has no known original other than the similar family history relating to; physical/sexual abuse, neglect and mental abuse however, there is no medical proof this is the case there is also a possibility of being a female based hereditary mental health condition.

The importance of relationships I’m sure anyone can see is key in all ages of life, to a young developing brain even more so. Relationships as a child influence your future romantic, professional and social relationships; simple people skills. The author continues to comment on how this can be combatted in the early stages through dynamic psychotherapy, addressing the issue, assessing the issue and following relevent steps and phases to change the childs state of mind. These are unconscious processes to aid anxiety and psychic pain, defence mechanisms (which is the main reason children with behavioural issues act out), motivational drives; developement phases.

‘One of the reasons why emotional experiences are not assimilated into our conscious view of ourselves is the anxiety (psychic pain) which such material may cause. Feeling unloved or unwanted by one’s parents, for example, is not easy to accept. While it is possible for considerable amounts of anxiety to be tolerated, even for relativity long periods, and while a certain level of anxiety is helpful in fostering optimal performance especially in competitive situations, high levels of anxiety can produce serious emotion distress.’ This passage I thought was the most powerful to convey the importance of stability and how fragile and delicate young minds are without the correct type of nurture and guidance.

Drawing on all I had read and learned from the book thus far the most relevant information to my brief was educational responses and curriculum developement. This surprisingly short chapter discussing simple ways of helping children improving many aspects of their life and mood as well as thinking. As the author lists many alternative medicines and ‘special’ schools, he then makes an interesting point that subjects which are already party of every school curriculum were found to make the best impact and induce dramatic changes within pupils. These areas were; drama, physical education, MUSIC, ART and CRAFT. The author goes on to discuss why these specific areas help and what they help,

‘Physical education helps increase awareness of self through its concentration on bodily strength, fitness and co-ordination. Drama, like imaginative play, is an occasion for releasing feelings and discussing and interpreting them. MUSIC offers help in understanding changed of mood and the pleasure of creativity in making one’s own music. Art and craft activities help provide alternative means of communication, distraction and relaxation from all other tensions and the success which comes from overcoming frustration in surmounting difficulties and producing a finished product.’ This passage embodies all that our design ideas are based. Creating  an outlet for young people to vent and be part of something bigger, for this to be so simple is inspiring and yet heartbreaking. For all those people who have faced hardship and struggle with their adult lives because these symptoms were not recognised when they were a child and their requirements to be a happy individual were not met.

For my second research piece I found Cultures and Processes of Adult Learning, a book of articles which brings together a number of major contributions to the analysis and conceptions of learning during adult-hood. It highlights continuing debates and issues about educational policy and practice and also the relationship between teacher and pupil touching on topics like self empowerment. Each chapter looks at the topic is an analytical view of the subject drawing on sociology and psychology.

This article employs the same ideologies of  Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties -Theory in Practice however applies them in a different manner; Kolb also discusses alternative structure and teaching practice but has a much more simplified and less specialist method which could easily become part of a teachers arsenal or a completely new way of training teachers for young children.

After reflecting on what I have read I feel that I have a better idea of what our idea should do and how it can help those in need of release. Each of these writen works have inspired me and pushed my motivation to think of how to spread the word/meme . Our product is about a trend, people getting together and creating musical insturments that may not even make sound but it will be drawing young people together, giving a support network to those who may already have a happy and life but also give those who don’t a chance to have a happy future. It is imperative for this trend to be an outide school activity or it will not seem as ‘sticky’ or cool to participate in, if young teens are paranoid and anxious about being judged for joining in with a school activity we must take our product somewhere that all children can compelled to join in. By using our simple instrument making techniques and perhaps recording online tutorials, we will provide possible troubled young people with creativity which I have found can help work though issues and frustration. A type of art therapy.. The musical aspects of this idea also contribute to other aspects of perhaps the more technical than creatuve audience and could help promote competition and well as a ‘band bond’. I thuroughly enjoyed reading each of these peices and I feel it has benefitted and broadened my feild of research yet at the same time made me more focussed on my specific goal.

Paul Cooper, Colin J. Smith and Graham Upton, 1994, Emotional & Behavioural difficulties – Theory to Practice, London.

Mary Thorpe, Richard Edwards, Ann Hanson, 1993, Cultures and Processes of Adult Learning, Oxford, Chapter 9, The Process of Experimental Learning, David A. Kolb.

As a group we met up with another CBD group to discuss our findings and give feedback on eachothers new ways of thinking as a result from our further research.

The original critizm of our idea was  how to get it known without introducing it in school, and new ideas of posters without words have emerged, online tutorials or ‘catch-phrase’ songs which can be recognised from a far as a ‘The Battle of the Pop-Up Flash Orchestras’… for example, catchy theme songs, the Dr Who theme tune, Alton Towers -Hall of the Mountain King. Imigary: – Live long and posper, devil horns to a thumbs up. (Shown by Alice)

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