Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Making Sense

Our Beijing collaborators have gone home, yet, I'm looking for their faces today. I feel the absence of that intimate daily engagement--inquisitive, open faces, smiling such different smiles: funny, warm, friendly, quiet, penetrating,rosy, intense.

Sabine Moller is a visiting scholar from Germany and studies Historical Consciousness. Her launching points are the films, FORREST GUMP and GOODBYE LENIN. She has just taken a job at Humboldt University in Berlin. I will interview her six year-old son, Ben, about games and the senses and she will interview me about my historical consciousness.....and she will watch FLIEGEN. Ben will attend the Nelson Mandela School in Berlin where friends Peter and Elise have enrolled their Julian. I hope the two will know each other and play a little baseball together, because Ben told me he's sad that they don't play baseball in Germany.

I gave seven classes to sixth graders today, starting with a sensory circuit tied into the definition of discernment. With simple questions like "What color do you like better, black or green?" the students to expressed the details of why they like or don't like something. They all liked talking about their senses. It was the first day of my internship which will be devoted to peers selecting films for peers audiences. I spoke about the importance of having keen senses to make informed choices. I introduced the concept of "international peers" to the sixth graders. One boy objected that peers had to be friends in the same area, and I asked him to consider that someone born in the same year as he in Berlin, Beijing, Beirut or Boise, Idaho and who had knowledge of some film stories in common might be a peer, too. He accepted that.

This is public school, the classes are only 45 minutes long, the lunch (spicy chips, hot pocket and soda) is sold at four or five walk up windows like you would find at an old lake or beach resort. Lunchtime is only 40 minutes and in that time, food must be gotten and eaten, leaving about twenty five minutes to play, wash up and get to class. The teacher teaches the same lesson for seven classes for only those 45 minute intervals, which end on threes and sevens. The day is scheduled to the minute. I wonder if the students' senses are generally bombarded by school instead of heightened by it.

In the experimental class dedicated to examining curriculum planning through iPhone application design, aka game design, my group is also examining sensory heightening through the senses. An important aspect of game design is to incorporate the surrounding world into the play with the mobile device. I believe we're doing that as well as deepening physiological curiosity. I also attended a lecture on something new called Augmented Reality--an "app" where your iPhone connects the functions of many of its applications at the same time, allowing the user to get information about a location photographed. See "Yelp."