Touchy stuff? Young Children’s Sense-making in Touch Interactions with Materials, Materiality and Technologies in Transmaterial Landscapes

Av: Lovise Søyland

Konferansebidrag i Nettverkskonferansen -Kunst og håndverk 2019, arrangert på Universitetet i Sørøst-Norge, campus Notodden.

This article suggests that the process of children’s sense-making in explorative actions in their environments is closely related to embodied experience and the sense of touch. Previous research in the field of arts and crafts education on aesthetic experience, embodied cognition and making has highlighted the role of touch in interactions with materials as the driving force behind children’s self-motivated actions to search for problems and find solutions. Today, learning environments on large-scale changes from material to virtual, which brings new challenges and opportunities for tactile cognition. Touch and emotions are essential for children’s sense-making of the world, despite this it has been largely neglected in cognitive science.

This article presents and discusses a group of young children’s sense-making in explorative touch interactions with technologies, materials and materiality in transmaterial landscapes. The children’s touch interactions was explored together with their kindergarten teacher and me, where I (author) took a position as an A/R/T-ographer (artist, researcher and teacher). The main methods for data generation was case study and explorative inquiry, drawing on arts-based research methodology, while the main approach for generating data involved observations, data notes, stills and video documentation.

The study identifies how important it is to put touch on the agenda of learning in both the material and virtual environment and perhaps most of all not to split the material from the virtual, but explore how the transmaterial environment, can offer new potentials and make sense for children in their explorative touch interactions. The study also indicates that touch involves more that we usually put in our everyday language connected to learning, and that we must extend our understanding of touch. Touchy stuff can be more than tangible materials and tools and mediators can transform and shape what children can explore and experience. The viewpoint from arts education emphasizes the experimental and the unforeseen aspect in children’s explorative touch interaction and sense-making, thereby supplementing studies performed in e.g. human-computer interaction.

Nøkkelord: Sense-making, touch interaction, emotions, experimental, transmaterial environment, embodied cognition.

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