Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

April 16, 2012

Vygotsky on Play

Less known is Vygotsky’s research on play, or children’s games, as a psychological phenomenon and its role in the child’s development. Through play the child develops abstract meaning separate from the objects in the world, which is a critical feature in the development of higher mental functions.

The famous example Vygotsky gives is of a child who wants to ride a horse but cannot. If the child were under three, he would perhaps cry and be angry, but around the age of three the child’s relationship with the world changes: “Henceforth play is such that the explanation for it must always be that it is the imaginary, illusory realization of unrealizable desires. Imagination is a new formation that is not present in the consciousness of the very raw young child, is totally absent in animals, and represents a specifically human form of conscious activity. Like all functions of consciousness, it originally arises from action.” (Vygotsky, 1978)

The child wishes to ride a horse but cannot, so he picks up a stick and stands astride of it, thus pretending he is riding a horse. The stick is a pivot. “Action according to rules begins to be determined by ideas, not by objects…. It is terribly difficult for a child to sever thought (the meaning of a word) from object. Play is a transitional stage in this direction. At that critical moment when a stick – i.e., an object – becomes a pivot for severing the meaning of horse from a real horse, one of the basic psychological structures determining the child’s relationship to reality is radically altered”.

As children get older, their reliance on pivots such as sticks, dolls and other toys diminishes. They have internalized these pivots as imagination and abstract concepts through which they can understand the world. “The old adage that ‘children’s play is imagination in action’ can be reversed: we can say that imagination in adolescents and schoolchildren is play without action” (Vygotsky, 1978).

Another aspect of play that Vygotsky referred to was the development of social rules that develop, for example, when children play house and adopt the roles of different family members. Vygotsky cites an example of two sisters playing at being sisters. The rules of behavior between them that go unnoticed in daily life are consciously acquired through play. As well as social rules, the child acquires what we now refer to as self-regulation. For example, when a child stands at the starting line of a running race, she may well desire to run immediately so as to reach the finish line first, but her knowledge of the social rules surrounding the game and her desire to enjoy the game enable her to regulate her initial impulse and wait for the start signal. 

November 15, 2011

A short Intro..

November 2, 2011


Some days earlier, i did an activity, as a part of a self-inflicted creativity challenge. As it can be seen, the activity was based upon creating alphabets out of material you chose. For an adult like me, it was possibly a creative vent. Then i realized, can’t something like this be used to aid children to learn alphabets in a very playful manner.

To the  core alphabets are symbols, which need to be created again and again in mind to get a hang on. We try to link them by real world objects [remember A for ‘apple’ ?]. That does serve as a mnemonic but only at a semantic level. It would actually be great if we could do something similar, graphical mnemonics maybe.

How about making a V with fingers. A small hand gesture, but isn’t it powerful indeed? Imagine the child making the same gesture when you ask him to show you how V looks. How hard would it be to translate it on paper now? We will not be able to take practice away, for it’s all about hand-eye co-ordination; but this will actually rid the cognitive load and will ease the task further.

April 14, 2011

Art class invaded: Session 2 – Salad Monsters

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An activity was planned in collaboration with Mufaddal, who is working on food experience. The activity was planned on the eve of Holi and was to hold the feel of the same. But due to lack of time, was shifted to the next week.

We prepared a list of vegetables and condiments to suit children. The vegetables were sliced, diced and grated. Three condiments were prepared. The same was moved to TC on the Sunday morning.

The kids were first of all introduced  to the festival of holi and the respective mythology. The session turned to be the initial icebreaker.

The activity required them to use plates as canvases and the salad vegetables as the color. They were to think about their fears – the so called “monsters”. The plan was to let them make their monsters, than to swap them with their friend’s, so as they can help each other eat their monsters off using the condiments. The activity went as planned except for the swapping part.

The different cut shapes were used as basic elements to create the monsters. Children made monsters inspired from their reservations and fears. Some had no clear idea of how their monsters looked, while some chose to discover the form in the process of making.

One girl in particular, ‘Reny’ was a point of interest. She chose to sit still and non-responsive to all the things happening around her. She had a very stiff body language, She didn’t speak, nor participate. She also showed a good amount of resistance whenever someone tried to talk or console her.

We tried to talk to her and played pranks to break her initial resistance. Positive sign was seen in the form of her body language relatively freed. She started to nodd, stole occasional glances at other kids and their works. To further motivate her, it was realized that the emphasis could not be laid on the task, for her atleast. So, for that matter, we introduced her to a digicam. After a short while, she was seen roaming across the room with volunteers and taking pictures of people.

The task ended with introducing condiments for kids to eat off their monsters, after being photographed. Kids showed a great affinity towards ketchup. Some preferred honey and tamarind sauce.

One particular kid showed her love for color purple through the selective use of “beetroot” as the only element in her canvas.

February 19, 2011

Art class invaded : Session 1 – Rocket Launch

On the morning of 13th feb 2010, we decided to invade the weekly art class held in Technology Complex here at IIT Guwahati. We collected scrap cardboard from various hostels and started cutting them in 3 different sizes. The smaller sizes were to be used as units of material and the biggest pieces were supposed to be used to make large scale structures or to cut modified shapes.

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We moved all of the material to TC in front of children. Seeing something different happening they showed some excitement in asking what they were gonna do today.

The children consisted in 3 groups; 1st, 2nd and 3rd standard respectively.1st standard children were given the two small sized cardboard pieces along-with 2nd standard ones.Seniors were given some small pieces and many larger ones.The tools available were pencils, cutters and duct tapes. Use of colors was left optional. The session lasted for around 90 mins.

A little background information about the ongoing classes will be useful. The classes consist of basically 2D drawings and coloring.Students try to imitate what is drawn on the board as much as possible in their sketchbooks. Their excitement could be traced back to this.

Initial ideas kids had, concerned mainly box like objects. Any specific use didn’t really concern them.Buildings and rockets were the common ideas. A fix with 2D forms was also observed amongst many children, which can be traced back to being seasoned through these art classes held weekly.

The children working on 2d structures, finished fast and moved on to make larger objects, like 2D monsters or to 3D objects. Children were getting inspired by other children around them. This seemed to be a good example of how children learn things, while doing things in groups.

One specific case that i would like to bring in light, was one with a 1st standard girl. She sat in front of the blackboard carrying an imagery in chalk, supposed to be imitated and colored in her sketchbook. When she was introduced to the new materials, the kid, still silent, started to cry. Maybe she didn’t understand what to do; what i understood was that maybe she got very uncomfortable with new things and new people being introduced suddenly. She finally responded to the art teachers by saying that she only wanted to draw, and when permitted to do that, she engrossed herself in her drawing for the rest of the session, till her parents came to pick her up.

This one session also boosted up the interactivity. It was observed that 3rd standard students worked better in terms of teamwork, also they showed the tendency to think before doing. Some preferred to sketch before actually making anything.[Designers in the making???]

The variety in interests, personality, etc. were easily detectable. Some preferred doing everything [the jacks of all], some worked on whole piece of art the whole session [our own picasso], while some get into a frenzy of making as many things as possible in given time; some preferred simple box structures while some were meticulous for the geometry they chose.

All in all, the session ended mostly with smiles, and alot of requests to take their creations home, as trophies of hard work they put in for more than an hour. Some children learnt how to cut cardboard with cutter, some learnt to make 3D comes while some just had fun in putting themselves in a creative pursuit.

January 25, 2011


A characteristic of live beings, which due to its very nature, aids in survival through understanding and/or utilization of resources presented to the being.

I will firstly try to explain the above definition which comes through my own understanding of intelligence. Intelligence is a characteristic of lifeforms. Lifeforms aim at survival and this is the property that lets them. What does this property do? It gives them the ability to utilize resources for their survival; how much they understand this, is a matter of how developed that intelligence is.

So yes, trees are intelligent enough to survive though not enough to support abilities needed for mobility [maybe in future evolution might permit them to move].

Float identified as an ent, which clearly also...


Contextualizing it for human intelligence, is a task very well done by Dr. Howard Gardener. According to him, intelligence is

  • a property of all human beings,
  • a dimension on which human beings differ,
  • the way in which one carries out a task in light of one’s goal.

He defines human intelligence in terms of an existential differentiating factor inherent in one and all.

Intelligence has always been one of the hardest subjects to be encountered in psychology, owing to the complexity shown by the human brain. What adds to it is the inter-connectivity of traits and functions performed.

Many theories arose with time, trying to explain and contextualize intelligence. The understanding started to be developed in two realms, namely qualitative and quantitative. Like all other domains, the need to find a measure to understand and quantify intelligence seemed quite natural; and so evolved the concept of Intelligence Quotient.

January 24, 2011

Trying to understand..

My understanding for the project will try to revolve around three categories, namely

Intelligence – A property

Play – A behaviour

Child – The Future

A lot of time that i have spent on the project has been devoted to understand, what does being intelligent mean?… how does playing actually help children or for that matter adults?…. how does a child think or respond and why?

December 22, 2010


The process this project will follow can not be linear due to the vastness of the issue concerned and at the same time it has to provide tangible results at the end of the provided short time of an year. The digram above shows the process i’ll try to follow.

It consists of two identifiable parts; first being divergent in nature, will try to explore the realms that overlap with the concerned, through the stated means, followed by the second phase which by its nature is convergent, so as to make this fruitful in the form of a design-output.

December 19, 2010



noun Japanese word, literally ‘improvement

The Japanese philosophy of Kaizen remains rooted to the core in even the most simplest form of nature. The instict to survive has always pushed the mortal beings beyond their capabilities, in the form of Evolution. This continuous process has given many gifts to many creatures. In this voyage we the Humans received Intelligence. A weapon to survive; sharper than any claw, it became the key to man’s so called conquer of  the world. 

Why i talk about this is beacuse the importance of this one entity seems to be lost somewhere amidst the pile of books that we as human-hard-disks grow up with. What i really mean through this can only be clearly put via followthrough of posts that will be written after this; one by one talking about the facts and experiments however small they would seem, will try to see how can the process of learning we follow should be rated and for better, could be evolved.

This is the initiation of the project called “Tinker-able”; i name it so because the crux of this project lies in an output that gives the freedom to do rather than imitating. The project will derive heavily from psychology but on no ground it will remain in the form of experiments.

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