Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thinking about a chamomile lawn under the clothesline.
Why do I catch their vomit in my bare hands just like The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy warned me?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The capacious wool coat is perfect Bbq-wear. Sit on it if hot, wrap up in it if cold.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I played A-grade.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Connecting and disconnecting concepts.

"Schemas are about relationships, space, and time." I said, at the moment I often blog by sending a text from my phone in order not to lose the thought and with the tiny character limit I packed my meaning so densely that it was hard to get a chunk off for conversation so and Mash told me I have become too Zen to easily engage with.

When I wrote this entry I'd been thinking for a couple of days about what makes a pattern of play a schema and how to individuate schemas. A common problem in the philosophy of human activities (e.g. aesthetics, jurisprudence, and political and philosophy) occurs again in this little tributary of philosophy of education. It is the problem that descriptions of the activities of real people in the world do not divide up neatly into clear theoretical categories. But I do think it reasonable to say that "frogs" are not a schema in the way that "trajectory" is because it is at the wrong level of abstraction; schemas are about relationships, space, and time.

Qarl said I'm working at a "meta-schema schema" and I do think I do schemas with concepts, and here even unto the concept of schemas. But am I connecting and disconnecting
(schemas with relationships, space, and time) and (frogs not-with trajectories),
or am I sorting into a hierachy of abstraction?
  1. relationships, space, and time,
  2. trajectory, enveloping, connection, disconnection et cetera,
  3. frogs and kangaroos
But today I want to think about animals. Nikolien suspects some children investigate their relationship with the living world and people through passionate repeated thinking about animals. I agree it doesn't look as theoretically simple as them being into trajectories and thus frogs, or enveloping and thus kangaroos. I think she's right. There's a way of thinking about animals that feels like a schema.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Grokking Csíkszentmihályi's flow.

Just before Christmas I said
At the moment, what I love best about Ultimate is that it can occupy my whole being; a lot of the time that I am on the field I am not multi-tasking at all, I am not even directing my thinking. My self is wholly present in the moment, senses and understandings united; intuiting and acting in a dynamic and embodied way. To be so concentrated is utterly luxurious, mystical and animal, it is how I am when I am pushing a baby out, when I orgasm, and the more of the game I can do it for the better I play.
I didn't have a word for that state then but reading a draft of my friend Nikolien van Wijk's forthcoming book Getting Started With Schemas I read that Csíkszentmihályi's flow, a combination of intense concentration and deep enjoyment, is a symptom that a child is engaged upon their schemas.

Wikipedia says

Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following as accompanying an experience of flow:

  1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
  2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
  3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
  4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
  5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
  6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
  7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
  8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
  9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging (Csíkszentmihályi, 1975. p.72).

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.

I think Csíkszentmihályi's flow is my favourite thing about my favourite things.

I love watching the disc fly; a predator's wordless understanding of physics and aerodynamics bringing me to exactly the right spot to snatch it out of the air.

I love to paint, to draw, to give a blank page a resemblance. My focus is wholly within the moment of the mark-making. The changing shape of the lines or texture of the paint, the speed at which I move my hands, my being is in these things.

I love to converse, to let the ideas wander, to listen and make connections, to be oblivious to what people might think of me and to concentrate wholly on what they think. Suddenly an hour's gone by, or maybe a night. I also love to write; in order to express myself with clarity, power, or a frivolous enjoyment of the pitter patter of little words passing, I let myself melt into my sentences.

Flow feels very good, and seeking it out is incredibly motivating.

Flow feels like a brain state. I wonder what we know about brain chemistry during learning, reading, problem solving, art, sport, drama, music, dance, trance, religious ecstasy, addiction, computer games, sex, eating, peeing, and breast-feeding.

Flow feels really really good but one can get flow by doing bad things. I remember flow as a child; calmly and unkindly goading my little sister, enjoying the challenge of staying only just inside her temper's limit so she didn't actually break into violence but talking rings around her 19 months and 23 days less sophisticated positions, and being willing to pay the price of her wrath when I wasn't competent enough to talk her back down again.

I'm sure downers are psychologically addictive by way of flow. Downers (e.g. alcohol, marijuana, lack of sleep) cut the number of neural connections made per second, this makes everything harder to do except narrowing of focus. Downers make it easier to focus (one isn't having so many thoughts at once) and change the balance of competence and challenge so that things usually done with ease become candidates for flow (ever see a stoned person butter a piece of bread).

I wonder whether uppers are also psychologically addictive by way of flow. Uppers (e.g. caffiene, nicotine, hot spices) make the brain make more neural connections per second, it's harder to focus but possible and then a torrent of thinking is pouring around the course set for it.

Certainly the high I've got from computer games is flow. That balance of competence and challenge, that single focus to the point of noticing that it's getting light again outside, that my hands are really cold and that in order to get to the toilet I have to walk bent over around my poor bladder, that's flow. Other people have even studied this idea already, but most of the papers I found about flow's role in cyber addiction by googling addiction and flow experience are not easily available for reading.

Even parts of the flow experience are quite hard to let go of once one is experiencing them. The focus of trying to grab a hair with tweezers, the un-self-consciousness of reading dull books and zoning out in front of the T.V. and of course, that favourite feeling of we parents: control.

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I would like to teach these young medical students, not all of whom are stupider than me, but what?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We're listening to The Wind in the Willows. I always identified with Mole before but now I'm more akin to Rat.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

One of my imaginary friends died today. Frank was not a good man nor a real one but he was interesting to talk to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Cobweb at Playcentre. Connecting after the break, core and radial. Shelob, weaving history and myth.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Schemas are about relationships, space, and time.
Oh, and that state I was thinking about is flow; Csíkszentmihályi's Flow to be precise.

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Where I'm at.

I just wrote a letter to a friend I haven't seen in a long time, I want to go to bed and so I'm not going to write a blog post too but I doubt he'll mind me putting it here.
I'd like to write properly, but it seems unlikely this month as Hazel's taking a bit of settling into her second year of school. She's at the primary school I was at, Iris is at the playcentre I was at too. Most people in most of the world and through most of time raise their children where they were children themselves but it still feels odd to me.

I'm about to turn 39. In a very biologically appropriate way I've spent my thirties working with children. Other people's first of all as, of the four years I spent in the US while Sean was in graduate school at Indiana University, Bloomington and I went along for the ride, I spent the last bit working in "daycare". Then we came back here and I puttered around for a year with a couple of part-time jobs, one of which was in "early childhood education" and since then I've been Mum. If Mum is a job it's the best and hardest one I've ever had but we've decided to stop at two (though I wouldn't bet this lovely old sunny house in Northland on that) in order to retain the opportunity for work-life balance.

I'm thinking I might well do some art school courses when Iris gets to school in a year. I have some big scale installation-type projects growing in my mind (eg. a box a person can crawl into and peer out of because the sides are a web of yarns: somewhat related to those nail and yarn pictures of the seventies but less regular) and if I can fight akrasia far enough to get around to tidying the playroom on a fairly frequent basis surely I can get some of them out of my mind and into the world.

I write a blog. Or at least, I text my blog the occasional sentence and form intentions to write more some other time. http://susan.sean.geek.nz if you're curious.

If you're actually curious you could read this: http://karapoti.blogspot.com/

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I just wheeled a barbeque from West Rd to Putnam St. Hazel helped, we are epic.