Saturday, 18 August 2012

Week 42


- from the final week of the MA Drawing program at Wimbledon College of Art [UAL] consist of the following images that I have been experimenting with for presentation as parts and pieces of my graduation and final assessment show. It is hoped that the pieces displayed in the show, which will include the accompanying Artists statement; together with my Research Paper [included in Week 40] and the contents of this rudimentary blogging effort will form a cohesive and self explanatory review and explanation of my 42 week journey at Wimbledon.

Artist Statement:
“The Physical Impossibility Imagining Old Age by Someone Young”

This studio work is presented as a physical embodiment of all the thoughts and ideas outlined in my Research Paper and Folio [as presented in blog form] and is the culmination and result of the entire M.A. Drawing year at Wimbledon College of Art. It is my hope that this studio work will support, and be supported by, the research work such that they become almost seamlessly complementary and cohesive. The work here plus the Research Paper and Research Folio need to be read as a whole; however, the “stand alone” work here attempts to speak to a number of the major concerns that have dominated my thinking in the past year. The questions and concerns that I have regarding how we age and specifically how it has and will continue to affect me and my journey as a Life Long Learner are presented in the work.
             The work also is done with a purpose. The purpose is to help me and others understand how art, particularly Drawing, can assist in bringing together many disciplines to help solve very complex problems. In this case I am looking at the interdisciplinary areas of neuroscience and how the mind/brain ages; the social science of pedagogy and paragogy in particular and how teaching and learning must change as we age; and the social science of gerontology. I believe that the arts provides an ideal setting for such an interdisciplinary exploration and is one that, as well as providing a platform for visualizing and thinking about the complex issues, can also provide some of the answers to these complex problems themselves.
             The work is an exploration of how society views age and ageing and how this impacts older persons. I am interested in what changes could be effected by older persons and by society at large so that progress can be made in respect to the wellbeing of this single largest, and fastest growing demographic of society.
             Finally the work is autobiographical in its representations of some of the internal struggles and conflicts I have dealt with as I inexorably age and in my Life Long Learning. It will surely be a reflection for us all as we are all going there! As the saying goes, “our death rate is rapidly approaching one per capita”. Ultimately the success of how one ages lies in his or her ability to be engaged in Life Long Learning, which is both an individual and a societal responsibility. It is part of our core humanness, and insofar as it is achieved one can constantly grow and progress with wisdom, dignity, and great feelings of self worth. The results of this process could be a great shame or a great credit and benefit to all.
The work is presented in a combination of sculpture and drawing and the materials used in the making are primarily found and recycled ones.

R G Wilson
 Sept. 2012

Although all of the answers to all of the questions that I have posed in these weekly writings, to myself and readers, are not provided and some are only partial answers the search will go on; the final question is :"in what forum and in what form"?

Monday, 13 August 2012

Week 41


The image on this near final week are of my mother's hands. As she approaches the grand age of 100 she remains extremely "all together" in mind and body. Her memory is very much intact and her mind is sharp. I owe a lot to her as she has been a big influence for the thematic thread of all that has been a focus for me on this journey at Wimbledon in the past year.
 If, what futurists are predicting is correct, in that the first person to live beyond 200 years has already been born, then the subject of this years work for me will have to be addressed very very soon.
 The answers to some of the questions that have been posed herein during the past 41 weeks are partially answered in the following ,which is my final Research Paper and Artists Statement in support of the work of this year.

  R.G. Wilson
  Submitted August 2012
 This paper poses a question and then attempts, through it’s answering, to provide a modest solution to one of society’s greatest problems. The problem concerns the overall wellbeing of the largest and fastest growing segment of the population in most countries in the Western world and indeed, the entire world.
The question is: Can Drawing be used to develop a new pedagogical framework to facilitate imaginative and creative learning in later life?
An affirmative answer to this question could lead to the development of a program for Seniors that would address many of their stated and unstated, yet vital, desires and needs and lead to greater physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. This in turn would have significant social benefits for all.
The origin of the question is rooted in a very autobiographical journey that I have been on for the past 20 years as an artist and is part of my personal Life Long Learning [LLL] process. It is one that has been stimulated by my interests in the fields of neuroscience and how the brain ages; gerontology and new data from research regarding the signifiers of ageing and lastly in education and some new ideas, resources and concepts in teaching and learning including developments in the relatively new area of social sciences regarding imagination and creativity development. Underlying all, is my strong interest in the visual and plastic arts, particularly Drawing.
In this paper I will outline in a linear progression some of my considerations and ideas that have, in fact, been gained as a result of a very circuitous and open looping learning process. It will hopefully lead an interested reader to some rational and logical but very tentative conclusions.
Seniors will soon be the largest and fastest growing demographic segment in most countries in the Western world. The Seniors of this demographic are very different from Seniors demographics in the past insofar as they are generally in better health, more educated and more affluent than previous Seniors.
The incidence of diagnosed age related dementia and serious brain related disease is increasing worldwide. The medical costs to nations with regard to health care for the growing numbers of Seniors is, and will be increasingly enormous.
Advances in neuroresearch indicate that some former ideas as to how the mind/ brain ages are not correct; it is now accepted that the brain is very similar to other bodily organs insofar as it requires regular exercise to remain in a healthy state. If exercised properly a healthy mind/brain can inhibit and/or delay the onset of normal age related dementia and some brain diseases as ageing occurs.
It has been suggested by some neuroresearchers, educators and philosophers that the best mind/brain exercise comes as a result of involvement in LLL. It is also thought that the pursuit of new learning and exercising old learning’s in the arts can provide some of the best forms of LLL and thus are perhaps the best mind/ brain exercisers. It is also now known that new learning right to “life end” is possible with a healthy, well-exercised mind/brain.
The overall percent of Seniors involved in LLL is decreasing in many of the Western countries even though overall numbers are increasing as a result of the growing demographic.
There are growing numbers of Seniors who are disaffected and desire alternatives to improve social and intellectual wellbeing.
Results of information gathered over the years indicate that after such concerns as financial security and good health there is a great desire and need for social interaction and stimulation. Seniors constantly refer to a desire for “fun” in a social context. High rankings are also given to intellectual stimulation as well as physical activity.
Artists, artist/educators and others who have great familiarity with Drawing describe it as intellectually engaging and stimulating with a capacity to stimulate both social and physical engagement.
The intention of this paper is to investigate certain patterns and possible connections that have been observed in areas of recent research in the three distinct disciplines of gerontology, neuroresearch and pedagogy.  By investigating connections between the known research and other recent developments I hope to answers the primary question posed.
To investigate these connections and patterns each of the areas will be investigated in greater depth.
Some of the major gerontological issues to be considered are:
1.   By the year 2030 the Seniors demographic [60 up] is projected to be 20 to 25 percent of the population of most Western world nations. Around the world, societies are getting older; the United Nations [UN] has indicated that population ageing is ‘transforming the world’. Figures from the Population Division of the UN show that populations are ageing across the world. It estimated that in 1950 there were some 200 million people over 60, by 2000 the figure had reached 600 million and by 2050 it will be at least 2 billion. Similar figures were reported in the US Census Bureau report An Ageing World: 2008.  Further the UN reported that the global population of older people over 60 was growing by 2 per cent each year, much faster than the population as a whole. Like many countries, the United Kingdom has an ageing population, with the number and proportion of older people increasing. In 1950, only about one in ten of the population was aged 65 or over but now it is one in six and by 2035 it will be one in four.

2.   The percentage of Seniors involved in LLL has fallen since the year 2000 in the U.K. for a number of reasons including the cutback of funding by governments; however, the main reason is thought to be the type and delivery programs of that are being offered. It is clear that many educational needs of older people are not being met, with a reduction in provision of opportunities in recent years, with only a small (and falling) proportion of older adults participating in such activities. The annual NIACE surveys show that older people's participation in learning increased up until 2000 but has since declined considerably,

3.   The LLL needs of Seniors are not being properly met in the U.K. and the U.S. and is thought to be the case for the majority of Western world nations. There are a number of respected gerontologists and writers who have put this issue forward in a consistent and insistent manner. They include Dr. John Benyon, a leading British gerontologist from Leicester University and by Dr. K Dychtwald an American gerontologist and futurist.

4.   In many studies Seniors consistently put the desire for social stimulation and intellectual stimulation high on their lists of desires and needs after health and financial issues. The following is a listing of the main vital life function needs of Seniors that has been gleaned from a number of sources:
         - to stay engaged physically, mentally, spiritually and socially until end of life.
         - to have fun and be able to play, especially socially until the end of  life.
         - to use imagination and be creative through ones entire life and to continue to develop cognitive capacity in creativity, in knowledge acquisition, in problem solving enhancement, in concentration retention and enhancement and finally in memory retention capability and enhancement.
        - to continue attitudinal development such that life continues to be meaningful.
        - to continue to have skills development.
        - to maintain feelings of usefulness, dignity and self worth.

    In spite of a great range of socio economic conditions and strata’s the above concerns are considered to be universal.
  5.   There is much research, which indicate that Seniors of this generation are unlike Seniors of past generations from a psychographic point of view. They generally have the capacity and the desire to be engaged and productive to a much later age than their predecessors. They are, as a group, more highly educated and are much more aware from a cultural and worldview perspective. Most of today’s Seniors have a history of at least some community involvement on a volunteer basis. As well, today’s Seniors are more affluent and are in better overall health than former generations. However they do wish for greater feelings of usefulness and fulfillment from activities that they undertake and they want and expect a greater feeling of involvement and the commensurate feelings of accomplishment and usefulness throughout their entire lives. Seniors today wish to stay very engaged in a creative manner; they also have a deep need to feel the satisfactions and feelings of self worth that flow from their societal engagements. They are capable and want creative education and L.L.L. throughout their entire lives. Again there are wide variances and socio economic variables within this Seniors group however the above statements are thought to apply across this entire demographic sector.

There is a growing body of new knowledge regarding how the mind/brain ages and previously held ideas regarding massive cell loss are incorrect. It is now acknowledged that some areas of the brain keep regenerating neurons until end of life. These are the neocortical areas of the brain that are the loci for pattern development and recognition in the neural networks. As neuroresearcher Dr. H Goldberg explains, new nerve cells form in our brains as long as we live, contrary to what scientists believed until recently. Although there is an overall shrinkage of the brain, this occurs mainly on the right side. The left cerebral hemisphere is more resilient, and can develop an increasing inner connectivity that pays out in superior power to solve highly complex and novel problems with little experience or effort. Goldberg emphasizes art as an exercise for the mind, much as athletics exercises the body. We now know that our brain stem cells keep developing new neurons even as we age and our brain has the capacity to rejuvenate itself continually and that the growth of neurons is influenced by cognitive activity in a way muscle growth is influenced by physical exercise. The levels of chemicals stimulating growth of new neurons also increase with exercise. This potential for neuronal production is particularly evident in the hippocampus area, which is the center for memory retention and is one of the most susceptible areas of the brain in initial phases of Alzheimer’s
There are several neurological processes that lead to strong pattern development and pattern recognition. One of these involves generic memory. Generic memory is pattern implanting and strengthening and is developed in three ways; neural network building to facilitate neurons firing in unison; neural network strengthening through repetition and neural plasticity and neural efficiency so that less energy is required to maintain the neural network. These functions are primarily neo cortical and are less prone to both age related dementia and brain disease so as the brain ages one can maintain strong mind function in spite of sub-cortical distress. The sub-cortex is the area where dementia and brain disease initially happens. Thus the stronger the pattern development the less likely is the early onset of dementia and some brain disease. The more generic the patterns are the more redundant are their neural representations and the more resistant they are to the effects of brain deterioration and dementia The more frequent the patterns are activated in the course of mental [intellectual] activity the more invulnerable they are to the effects of cognitive degeneration and the stronger the patterns grow with age. In many respects ageing is the price we pay for the strengthening of patterns and the following wisdom.
It is now known that the brain is a bodily organ that needs exercise to remain healthy and capable of efficient pattern development. There are strong indications that the best mind/brain exercises to maintain health lie in the arts. There is also a realization that a healthy mind / brain is capable of LLL until “ end of life.” Dr. H Goldberg as well as Dr. M Merzenick a widely published neuroscientist and Dr. D Doidge, a neurologist, have all written extensively on this subject. Other writings in this area include those of Dr. N Kauthmann a neuroscientist at the University of Berlin, and the late philosopher Dr. Nelson Goodman, and Dr. Harold Gardener both of Project Zero at Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and all confirm the above.
A healthy mind/ brain has a major impact on quality of life issues. To paraphrase J F Kennedy in an address in the 1960s, “through advances in medicine we have been able to add years, however now we must add life to those years”

Education as it applies to Seniors

The percentage of Seniors involved in L.L.L. has declined in the past 20 years in the U.K. and although similar specific data has not been found it is expected that the same is the case for most Western nations. This decline is partially due to extensive government funding cutbacks for Seniors education programs however the primary cause is thought to be an inability of the courses offered to fulfill the vital life needs of this group. It is also due to the quality of the teaching and tutoring of existing programs and the consequent dropout and non-return rates. The drop out rate and non-returns for Seniors enrolled in community based art programs is very high based on anecdotal evidence.
The present and historical situations in regards to how Seniors have been taught, and are currently being taught, is a complicated mix but generally education delivery has mainly been based in traditional pedagogical models and lacking in many areas that Seniors attach great importance to, such as having fun and play. Furthermore, thinking within education with respect to learning processes of an ageing mind/brain are not being incorporated to any significant extent.
Historically, Seniors have not been viewed as “special” in terms of learning requirements and are generally grouped with other levels and age groups in learning situations. Seniors are often deemed to be at the lowest end of the scale when it comes to teaching and as such are often “taught” by the low skilled and not highly motivated instructors and tutors or by young teaching trainees. This situation is thought to be primarily due to the fact that there is very little perceived value in the training, retraining or teaching of Seniors.
Seniors have developed ways of thinking, ways of seeing and ways of problem solving, which are deeply imbedded in their unintentional habits of necessity. They are not flexible learners like children who are still fresh and undeveloped and are therefore unique. To reach anywhere close to their potentials, Seniors require special training or retraining in thinking and implementing on a creative basis.
Seniors are willing and capable of being educated and re-educated but there is an acute awareness of failure in this age group especially if there is a low perceived incentive for undertaking a new learning experience. The fear of critical judgments usually associated with education is a big concern for this age group and can represent a major barrier for getting involved in a schooling or training endeavor. Another factor is that Seniors are acutely aware of diminishing sensory acuity and other physical limitations. Some of these same problems are also thought to be inhibitors to starting new and mostly unknown activities and add to the “fear of failure” problem.
Seniors have certain perceptions that they “should” be able to perform many tasks with some competence and that they should be able to learn skills fairly quickly possibly because they feel that they have the necessary “ life experience”. They feel they should be “able to do it”.
Presently the primary venues for Seniors learning are not Higher Education institutions where the better instructors and educators are found but rather in a combination of government sponsored, NGO sponsored and private venues where instruction and delivery methods and techniques are not the best. There are few teaching programs to assist Seniors involved in entry level [usually community based] art and drawing sessions. There is a general lack of awareness that Seniors are unique learners and have unique capacities. The lack of valid instructional method and skilled people to deliver them most often result in frustration, disillusionment and exit from the endeavor for many Seniors.
 Although Seniors wish to stay engaged in learning processes, physically, socially, developmentally, attitudinally and cognitively they do not feel a compelling need for accreditation. Seniors wish to stay engaged and improving but are not interested in becoming “great” in these areas of pursuit; having fulfilling social interaction and fun are often most important, followed closely by feelings of usefulness, self worth and dignity.
Most Seniors have experienced traditional linear teaching methods and programs and are unused to the more cyclical, non-linear teaching methods that incorporate the concept of “no right way and no wrong way”. These are foreign concept to many Seniors.
Another real factor in LLL is that Seniors have a great amount of built up expertise and knowledge as a starting point, which is rarely taken into consideration in education programs.
 Finally there is rarely a consideration, or even realization in Seniors education that they are often at the most “ self reflective” point of their lives. Erik Erikson in his 1986 book Vital Involvement in Old Age written with J Erikson and H Kivnick suggested that late life, like earlier stages, can and should be seen as a stage of development, not just as an endpoint. The principal task of establishing integrity in one’s life is to be viewed as prospective and constructive, rather than as retrospective. The later years are offer an opportunity to find integral meaning by doing something more rather than simply looking back and taking stock.
Contemporary society seldom associates creativity with people in later adult years. There are now studies that challenge that perception. A great number of creative programs show promise for eliciting late life creativeness offering elders in the community, in residential settings, in adult day care, and in home care new avenues for expression. For many Seniors, their physical and emotional well-being may be strongly influenced by their ability to stay connected and to connect in new ways to the community through such programs.

  New Educational Possibilities for Seniors
The following are short descriptions of the various recognized types of education and teaching and learning delivery systems and how each relates to Seniors:
Pedagogy is the holistic science of education. It may be implemented in practice as a personal, and holistic approach of socializing and upbringing children and young people.
An instructor develops conceptual knowledge and manages the content of learning activities in pedagogical settings. The learning technique is adoptive learning of procedures, organization, and structure to develop an internal cognitive structure that strengthens synapses in the brain. The learner requires assistance to develop prior knowledge and integrate new knowledge using Verbal/Linguistic and Logical/Mathematical intelligences. The learner must learn how to learn while developing existing schema and adopting knowledge from both people and the environment. This is low order learning of conceptual knowledge, techniques, procedures, and algorithmic problem solving. This education delivery system is considered to have little or no application for Seniors although it has historically formed the basis of Seniors teaching and learning.
Andragogy consists of learning strategies focused on adults. It is often interpreted as the process of engaging adults with the structure of learning experience. The term ‘andragogy’ has been used in different times and countries with various connotations. Nowadays there exist a number of understandings of andragogy ; the most widely accepted is based on the concepts argued by M Knowles who suggests a specific theoretical and practical approach based on a humanistic conception of self-directed and autonomous learners and teachers as facilitators of learning. He suggests that andragogy should be distinguished from the more commonly used pedagogy.
Knowles' theory can be stated with six assumptions related to motivation of adult learning:
1.     Adults need to know the reason for learning something.
2.     Experience provides the basis for learning activities.
Adults need to be responsible for their decisions on education; involvement in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.
3.     Adults are most interested in learning subjects having immediate relevance to their work and/or personal lives.
4.     Adult learning is problem-centered rather than content-oriented.
  5.     Adults respond better to internal versus external motivators.
    These ideas are starting to be implemented and where their application to Seniors is considered to be appropriate there should be modifications to account for the special needs of this group.
Heutagogy, a concept coined by Stewart Hase of Southern Cross University and Chris Kenyon in Australia, is the study of self-determined learning. This idea is an expansion and reinterpretation of andragogy, and it is possible to mistake it for the same. However, there are several differences between the two that mark one from the other. Heutagogy places specific emphasis on learning how to learn, double loop learning, universal learning opportunities, a non-linear process, and true learner self-direction. Whereas andragogy focuses on the best ways for people to learn, heutagogy also requires that educational initiatives include the improvement of people's actual learning skills themselves, learning how to learn as well as just learning a given subject itself.
Paragogy is the very recent developed concept of education proposed by Joseph Cornelli and Charles Danoff and is described in their 2010 paper Paragogy: Synergized Individual and Organizational Learning  and seems particularly appropriate for Seniors learning especially if developed in close conjunction with other educational delivery systems. Cornelli and Danoff are currently testing their concepts within the Peer-to-Peer University system.
The ideas embodied in paragogy and peer to peer learning are based on built up expertise and knowledge, which could be uniquely suitable in regards to Seniors. Paragogy also has a large social networking component and is perfectly in tune with social networking that is the foundational element of Web .20 development.
 Each of the above modes of teaching and learning have been impacted by developments in neuroscience and all have a potential to impact on LLL regarding Seniors however there seems to be a lack of current neuroresearch with specific reference to brain ageing and education.

There is a major question as to what the best mix of education delivery systems might be for Senior LLL however given that Seniors have a great amount of built up expertise and knowledge as a starting point it seems appropriate that a heavy emphasis on paragogically structured programs may be appropriate. A number of the factors outlined above as to the “special“ nature of this demographic and their specific desires and needs in the areas of social contact and their stated desire for education to be delivered in the context and form of fun and play would indicate the same. Perhaps the most compelling argument for a great deal of paragogical influence in any teaching and learning system is that, as mentioned, this group is widely comprised of individuals with a lifetime of built up experience and very developed skills and capabilities which can be passed on at the very time in life when there is a big desire for social interaction and willingness to share. A major consideration in any structuring should take into account that Seniors are at a very “self reflective” point of their lives. The 1980s work of developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst Eric Ericksons in regards to his ideas of the eight levels of ego development and some of the surrounding issues may lead to understandings of the motivation of Seniors in this regard. This factor might argue for a component of heutogogy in structuring considerations.

A number of other considerations should also be taken into account in developing the most appropriate system for teaching and learning for Seniors. Some of these will be a result of new areas of research that are being developed primarily in North America in reference to individual and group imagination and creativity stimulation and development. New protocols for teaching imagination and creativity stimulation are being developed and tested in both the public and the private sectors. Some of the factors that impact on how these can be taught, encouraged and supported include; the importance of autonomy, mastery, a wish to constantly be improving, the purpose motive vs profit motive and very importantly, meaning, play and having fun. Also important is the necessity for alternative ways of thinking, seeing and doing. The use of imagination and creativity to develop new ideas that have perceived “value” is also a factor. There is a significant connection here with numerous recent publications by D Pink, M Gladwell, Sir K Robinson, H Gardiner and T.Buzan.

There is thought to be a great opportunity to use these developments in imagination and creativity initiation and development in adaptations for Seniors LLL applications as learning tools and resources. There are also possibilities of using new delivery systems and new resources that have been developed for children, teens and adults in a modified application for Senior LLL. In this regard the Mind Mapping techniques developed by Tony Buzan might also be incorporated. As well, many of the Project Zero initiatives such as programs like Goodwork, Workdone, Artful Thinking, and Arts Survive could be considered. The significant and wide ranging research of Project Zero and comments of the founder of this program, Nelson Goodman and its recent director, psychologist Howard Gardiner would indicate that they believe that a major component, if not the main component of LLL for Seniors and indeed for everyone, is the arts. The stated mission of Project Zero is “ to understand and enhance learning, thinking and creativity in the arts”. Their research programs have always been structured at a detailed understanding of human cognitive development and the process of learning in the arts as well as other disciplines. A greater understanding of the varied research that Project Zero has carried will be a great source of information in formulating further ideas in this regard.

Why base this research and the development of new teaching and learning systems in the visual arts and why Drawing in particular?
 The answer to this question lies in the examination of some of the following facts and assumptions.
Visual arts is an area that a large percentage of Seniors have been naturally attracted to when they realize they have a desire and capacity for "more" to fill their increasingly "empty" lives. E. Ericksons work is again of significance in possible understandings of the motivation of Seniors in this regard.  Seniors are drawn to the visual arts as a venue they feel can be fun and play and social and gay. Seniors are involved in ever increasing numbers in arts programs.
Drawing, specifically, has unique qualities that make it an attractive activity to Seniors. It can be shown to have been done by everyone through his or her life and therefore may be less intimidating than other art forms. Drawing can be very social exercise; it can provide a great deal of fun and play and at the same time can be very intellectually stimulating and can be structured to provide physical activity. At the same time it is an activity that is very financially affordable; only a pencil and paper are needed to get started.
Some of the attributes and qualities of Drawing which have consistently been referred to by artists and educators which may have significance to the needs of Seniors include:
          - its use in communicating ideas and concepts to others and its application in developing solutions to problems visually through an internal communication process.
          - its use in memory stimulation and retrieval in both the maker and the viewer.
          - its ability to develop and make and recognize patterns and connections.
          - its capacity to cause intellectual stimulation and development.
          - its quality of being both a simple and yet a very complex, profound activity
          - its ability to be either a very social or a very private activity.
Drawing is one of the arts that qualify as “high value” mind/brain exercise. It can provide direct or indirect intellectual stimulation, under the guise of fun.
Drawing is already interdisciplinary in its art form and has the capacity to draw all of these disparate disciplines together. Finally it is very suitable for heutogogical and paragogical application and adaptation relative to Seniors LLL as it can be structured easily to incorporate peer-to-peer teaching and learning applications.

One can see the possibility of making all the connections through all the patterns that are emerging in the very discipline that is all about patterns, connections, networks and processes.

An examination of these attributes leads to uncanny connections with; neuroresearch, pattern development and recognition; pedagogy, androgogy, heutogogy and paragogy, the emergent social science of imagination and creativity stimulation and development, and the desires and needs of Seniors.


I am essentially trying to “connect all the dots” between the new and older research and knowledge in the above noted areas. The results of this inquiry are in the form of some facts and a number of assumptions that are based on my reading and my autobiographical experiences as part of the demographic in question.  These have led to a hypothesis that was structured as the original question.
If the above arguments are logical and compelling and thus have answered the questioning affirmatively, the next step would be to structure an Action Research Project [ARP], which would be undertaken with the following goals:
Firstly to determine the best methodologies for gathering specific information on what the special needs, desires and considerations are for the Seniors demographic in regards to LLL and to proceed to gather that information for a valid sampling. Such methodologies and sampling would serve to confirm the assumptions made herein.
Secondly, to structure and test, in cooperation with various Seniors groups such as Wimbledon U3G, different educational delivery models to determine what might be a good mix of components given the desires and needs of the Seniors demographic. The anticipated ARP would be structured around teaching and learning in the context of Drawing but would employ many techniques from other areas of the arts.
A peer workshop was conducted during the course of the MA Drawing session. A review of the planning, the selected Drawing exercises, some of the preliminary results and consideration as to how the concept might be expanded could help in designing a broader ARP. Based on the preliminary results of the workshop, as well as autobiographical and anecdotal evidence it is expected that the most compelling and necessary component of any program for Seniors will be found in how well it addresses the social needs. The components of fun and play are expected to be very significant. Desires in respect to intellectual LLL by Seniors may well be best achieved through a highly social peer to peer, paragogically based education program. In fact it may be that “having fun” and “intellectual stimulation” are one and the same and that overall mind/brain exercise will happen as a natural result.
Any further inquiry and research will be tied to my own studio practice in every respect. I will attempt to demonstrate how my Drawing studio practice and my LLL research practice have an integral and reciprocal impact on each other and how they together are impacting on me and my mental wellbeing as they have become more complementary. My interest and intent is to explore how I might put myself at the very center of research and the ARP as part of my LLL.
There is currently much interdisciplinary exploration into processes and changes that take place in the mind/ brain in different teaching and learning situations in creative and art based activities. On the other hand, there seems to be little differentiation regarding how the outcomes might change as the mind/brain ages. It would be my ambition in further exploration of this endeavor to subject myself to experimental situations in this regard and to keep myself at the center of the original questioning.
It is hoped that my experiences and the results of the anticipated ARP might allow for the development of some protocols to be established, using Drawing as the foundation, in a small initiative that will have some impact on one of the greatest social issues that faces society now and into the future.



Demographic, Psychographic and Gerontology:
Banks, J. et al. (2008) Living in the 21st Century: Older People in England. The 2006 English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (Wave 3). London: Institute for Fiscal Studies.
Benbow, S. (2009) Older people, mental health and learning. International Psycho Geriatrics, 21, 5, pp. 799–804.
Benyon, J. (2010) The longevity revolution. Political Insight, 1, 1, pp. 27–31.
Christensen, K. et al. (2009) Ageing populations: the challenges ahead. The Lancet, 374, 9696, pp. 1196–1208.
Dench, S. and Regan, J. (2000) Learning in Later Life: Motivation and Impact. DFEE Research Report RR183. London: DFEE.
Economist (2009) A survey of ageing populations. Economist, 25 June.
Mason, G. (2010) Adult Learning in Decline? Recent Evidence at UK National and City-region Level. London: Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge
Phillipson, C. (2010) Active ageing and universities: engaging older learners. International Journal of Education and Ageing, 1, 1, pp. 9–21. .
Schuller, T. And Watson, D. (2009) Learning Through Life: Inquiry into the Future for Lifelong Learning. Leicester: NIACE.
United Nations (2002) World Population Ageing 1950–2050. New York: United Nations.
Rowe J W, M.D., and  Kahn R L, Ph.D. “Successful Aging: The MacArthur Foundation Study Dell Publishing, New York, 1998
T Kirkwood:

Craik, F, Salthouse T, [2002] The Handbook of Ageing and Cognition, Mahwah, New Jersey Lawrence Erlbaum and Assoc.
Damassio, A, Numerous books, articles and papers
Doidge, N, [2008], The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science, Scribe Publications
Eagleman, D, [2010], Incognito: The Hidden Life of the Brain, Pantheon
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Goldberg, E [2001], The Executive Brain: Front Lobes and the Civilized Mind, New York, Oxford University Press
Goldberg, E [1998] Neural Networks and Neural Intelligence, Cambridge, MIT Press
Lawrence T E  [1991] Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, New York, Anchor Books
Merzenick, M, Numerous books, articles, papers and blog
McGilchrist,I, [2010] The Divided Brain, Video
Park D C, Swartz N [2001] Cognitive Ageing, Philadelphia: Psychology Press
Schave K W, Willis L [1986] Can Decline in Adult Intellectual Function be Reversed? Development Psychology 22 [2] 223
Shors T J [2003] Science of Ageing Knowledge, ENVIR; 49 pp 35-38
Sternberg R [ed] [1990] Wisdom: Its Nature, Origins, and Development, New York Cambridge University Press
Research at University of Sussex in writing and drawing by the Cognitive and Language Processing Systems Group [ CALPS] using TRACE . http://wwww.informatics

Imagination and Creativity Development and Education:
Buzan, T, [2010] The Memory Book, London, BBC Publications
Edwards D [1981] Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, London, Souvenir
Galenson, D, [2007] Young Geniuses and Old Masters: The Two Lifecycles of Creativity, Princeton University Press
Gladwell, M, [2008] Outliers, [2005] Blink, [2000] Tipping Point, all Little Brown Publishing
Pink, D, [2008] A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future, [2010] Drive
Robinson, K, [2010] Out of Our Minds, Viking Press; Learning to be Creative [2006] Promoting Creativity in Education: Overview of Key National Policy developments Across the U.K. [Robinson Report], U.K. Department of Education and Science

Baker, B  [2011] On the Drawing of Breath Wellcome Collection Exhibition, of Diaries and Talk and ICIA Bath Exhibition
Burton, J et al [2005] Vitamin D: New Perspectives in Drawing, London and New York. Phaidon
Buzan T, [1993] The Mind Mapping Book , ISBN 0-563-36373-8
Deleuze, G.[2008]Proust and Signs. London. Continuum Impacts.
Garner [ED] [2008] Writings on Drawing: Essays on Drawing, Practice and Research, Intelligent Books
Knowles,J. and Cole,A.[2008] Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research. London.SAGE,3-12.
Kovats, T [2007], The Drawing Book:A Survey of Drawing : The Primary means of Expression , London, Black Dog Books
Petherbridge, D, [1991] The Primacy of Drawing: History and Theories of Practice, Yale University
Phipps,B[2006] Lines of Inquiry: Thinking through drawing. Cambridge; Kettles Yard.
Rawson P, [1969] Drawing, London and New York , Oxford Press
Rogers,A.[2010] ‘Drawing the spaces between us: Using drawing encounters to explore social interaction’.
Rosand, D, [2002] Drawing Acts : Studies in Graphic Expression and Representation , Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Temkin, A , Rose B [1993], Thinking is Form: The Drawings of Joseph Beuys, New York and London, Thames and Hudson in assoc. with Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art , New York

Other resources and Reference Materials:
Project Zero, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, many research papers
Ageing and Dementia Research Centre at NYU School of Medicine
Leicester University Learning and Ageing Group and Institute for Life Long Learning   NIACE
American Society of Ageing
International Journal of Education and Ageing
Association for Education and Ageing
Journal on Ageing Studies
Gerontology Journal
Educational Gerontology
Journal of Intergenerational Studies
Current Video and UTube Material on all of the above topics

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Week 40

Questions and Observations:

 This is a follow on from last weeks article about Howard Gardner and consists of an interview given by Gardner in 2007 that further explores some of the same questions that are constantly being researched at Harvard Graduate School of Education and Project Zero in regards to the arts and its role in L.L.L. Althought this article is not specifically related to the subjects of gerantology,mind/brain ageing, art or pedagogy I find it very interesting in how new digital media NDM affects Kantian and Heideggarian categories. The huge development of NDM does however have great implications for Seniors with the developments in Web 2.0 and its potential for paragogical teaching and learning.

Is the Medium the Message?

Howard Gardner explores the question: Do the new digital media change everything?
My training is in psychology and biology and, as formulated, the question stirs my disciplinary conscience. As we are biological creatures, equipped with a gradually evolved nervous system, our fundamental human nature changes very slowly. We 21st century creatures understand Greek comedies and tragedies easily, and the Greeks would have no trouble understanding the plots of our current television shows, movies, and novels. On the other hand, they’d be bewildered by our cities, our household appliances, our media. Human culture changes very quickly, and the habits and ways of thinking apt for one culture or one era can be anachronistic or even maladaptive in another time and place.
I have no doubt that, over time, the new digital media (NDM) will change our minds—both their contents and their manner of processing information. But the most profound media effects occur slowly. Plato was afraid that writing would change thinking and memory, and he was right about that—but it took decades, perhaps centuries, for the ways that we write to alter the way that we speak, categorize, remember, or distort. So, too, the changes that were wrought by the printing press, the telegraph, and the broadcast media were substantial, but not immediately manifest or understood.
Though he is much criticized nowadays, Marshall McLuhan had genuine insights here. McLuhan argued that new media invariably begin by presenting the contents of the old media: radio and movies first presented the theatrical stage, television initially was visually-presented radio, and so on. This characterization is even true of the NDM, whose initial games, webcasts, search engines, and social networks draw heavily on prototypes developed in a predigital age. It takes time to arrive at the forms of presentation that take advantage of the distinctive features of each new medium.
On the other hand, another of McLuhan’s aphorisms may prove timebound. McLuhan famously contended “The medium is the message.” The classic example here is the 1960 television debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. Those who heard the debates on radio thought that the authoritative-sounding Vice President had won on points; those who watched the debates on television felt more in synch with the young Senator from Massachusetts. But increasingly, the print, broadcast, and other communication media are merging; in the future, users may pay no attention to the source of, or the means employed by, converging media.
Returning to the question at hand, two spheres that have been most immediately impacted by the new digital media are politics and commerce. Political candidates and operatives need to master the new media of communication, lest they become victims thereof; and any company or corporation that attempts to operate without employing the speed, flexibility, and advertising powers of the NDM is likely to have a short life. We can call these changes in human culture—more fundamental aspects of human cognition, emotion, and character are not significantly altered.
A Life-Altering Impact?
Friday 6th April 2007 4:15 pm
Category: Unexpected
Howard Gardner continues the conversation about where the most profound effects of digital media will occur. He suggests that digital media may have the power to qualitatively change life experience.
Over the long run, I expect the most profound effects of the new digital media to occur with respect to the classical categories by which we experience the world-categories that I will call, for short, the Kantian categories. As a species, we have evolved to perceive objects—animate and inanimate—as they exist in time and space, and as they interact and affect one another. And we have evolved to consider certain relations among humans as proper, others as problematic or even proscribed. Initially, most of these objects existed in the natural world, but with the proliferation of technology, each of these categories has begun to be represented and apprehended in new ways. The new digital media will accelerate this process and, perhaps, render life experience as qualitatively different.
Time: Individuals are expected to be, and expect others to be, available throughout the day and night. Rather than carry out one task at a time, one task after another, more and more individuals multi-task regularly. Information that used to travel over days or weeks now makes its way instantaneously around the world. The pace of life in a digital age seems inexorable.
Space: Individuals evolved to live in a particular region of the world, and to have access exclusively or chiefly to those who lived near them. Now one has equal and instantaneous access to individuals around the world. There is no longer a single space—there are as many virtual spaces (virtual worlds) as we care to create and participate in. Indeed, in virtual realities, space has only a metaphoric meaning.
Objects: More and more of our life is spent not with physical objects that have always existed, or with objects that one can build, handle, or destroy but rather with symbolic or virtual objects that can never be fully annihilated. Some of these resemble inanimate objects; some resemble animate entities; for an increasing number of robot-like objects or avatars, the line between animate and inanimate no longer makes sense. Indeed, as Sherry Turkle has demonstrated, young persons often attribute greater ‘reality’ to digital than to physical entities.
The issue of ownership of objects becomes vexed. It is so easy to transmit the creation of another person and to represent it as one’s own. Notions of intellectual property rights, plagiarism, authorial voice, become blurred. Wikipedia is the creation of innumerable, essentially anonymous figures; whom does one cite?
Personal Identities and Relationships: While issues of personal identity have never been completely straightforward, the ease with which identities can be created, shaped, and acted upon places new stresses on the sense of who one is, and who one is not. Similarly, the number of relations to others that can be established online, and the fluidity of these relations, is also unprecedented. We do not know whom to trust, who is as represented, who is anonymous, who exists over time and in real space.
Ethics: As implied, these strains on the Kantian categories harbor ethical challenges. To be sure, individuals have always been tempted to cut corners and cross lines, particularly when the chances of
discovery/sanction are small. As former CBS anchor Dan Rather can testify, the chance that a falsehood will be immediately apprehended actually increases in the world of the Internet; but so does the chance that a falsehood will become the ?topic? of the week. The laws, rules, regulations, and implicit norms that have developed gradually over time are all vulnerable in the era of NDM, and it remains unclear which of them will remain intact, which will have to be reformulated, and which may need to be scuttled.
Of course, media do not operate in a vacuum. In addition to the forces of the media, there will be counterforces. Agencies of government, religion, family, community, and corporations will be affected by the new digital media but they can expect to resist, especially when their core interests are threatened. 

Best Bets;
- the BP Portrait show at the National Portrait Gallery, especially the wining entry "Auntie"
which is a very real depiction of the physical ageing process and its cause for celebration instead of disgust as suggested by one of my favourite art critics, Brian Sewell; he is off the mark on this review!
- a second look at the Vollard Suite by Picasso at the British Museum, this is such a virtuoso performance

Week 39

Questions and Observations:

- Does the idea of multiple and parallel intelligences relate in any way to the exploration of Drawing? I think so; read on:

This article was written in 2008 . Currently Howard Gardner has retired from front line duty at the Harvard Grad. School of Education and Project Zero which he headed up for years, however while with Project Zero Gardner constantly promoted the idea that L.L.L. held the key to successful ageing and that the arts are the most dynamic and appropriate form of LLL at all ages.

In 1983, psychologist Howard Gardner published Frames of Mind, the book in which he introduced his ‘theory of multiple intelligences’ (MI theory). Gardner wrote this book as a psychologist and thought that he was addressing principally his colleagues in psychology. He devoted little of the book to educational implications and never expected that his ideas would be picked up by educators, first in the United States and then, eventually, in many countries across the globe. During this year, when Gardner turns 65, he will be making a number of presentations in which he reflects on the course of his thinking over the years, as well as his speculations about the future course of work in this tradition.
While many individuals believe that Gardner set out to dislodge IQ and standard intelligence theory, in fact he did not have this target in mind when he began the research that led to the theory. Indeed, as one who had done well on standardized tests and had been trained in the Piagetian tradition, he had devoted little thought or study to theories of intelligence altogether. Rather, it was his empirical work with normal and gifted children, on the one hand, and with brain-damaged patients on the other, that convinced him that the standard view of a ‘single, unitary, indecomposable intelligence’ could not be correct. The work of synthesizing that led to MI theory consisted of surveying a whole set of literature and disciplines that might yield a more comprehensive and more veridical notion of human intellect.
The most important steps taken by Gardner involved arriving at a working definition of ‘an intelligence’ and devising a set of criteria of what counts as an intelligence. As he describes it, an intelligence is a biological and psychological potential to solve problems and/or create products that are valued in one or more cultural contexts. Armed with this definition and these criteria, Gardner identified seven relatively autonomous capacities that he named the multiple intelligences: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. In more recent writings, Gardner added an eighth (naturalist) intelligence and continues to speculate about a possible ninth (existential) intelligence.
The two most important scientific implications of the theory are complementary. On the one hand, all human beings possess these 8 or 9 intelligences—that is what makes us human. On the other hand, no two human beings—not even identical twins—exhibit precisely the same profile of intelligences. That is because even when genetics are controlled for (as is the case with monozygotic twins), individuals have different life experiences and are also motivated to differentiate themselves from one another.
In part because he had not thought of himself as an educator, Gardner did not lay out—and indeed never has laid out-- a program for the education of multiple intelligences. He was amazed when, shortly after the book was published, a group of elementary school teachers from Indianapolis approached him and said that they wanted to start an “MI School.” For over twenty years, Gardner has been an informal adviser to the Key Learning Community; but he has always stressed that the teachers are the educators, the school people, and his views should be take as advisory only. He has assumed the same low-key stance toward the many other educators around the world who have approached him with requests for help in setting up an “MI school.”
For the same reason, Gardner kept silent for a decade when individuals approached him for comments on various implementations of his ideas. Only when he saw his ideas radically abused, as happened in Australia in the early 1990s, did he intervene. (Gardner objected strenuously to a statewide educational
intervention that described major racial and ethnic groups in Australia in terms of the intelligences that they purportedly had and the ones that they purportedly lacked).
Spurred by this “wake up call”, Gardner did write about the various myths and misunderstanding of MI theory—for example, confusing an intelligence with a learning style, or asserting that all children are strong in at least one intelligence. Moreover, he now believes that any serious application of MI ideas should entail at least two components;
l. An attempt to individuate education as much as possible. The advent of personal computers should make this goal much easier to attain.
2. A commitment to convey important ideas and concepts in a number of different formats. This activation of multiple intelligences holds promise of reaching many more students and also demonstrating what it means to understand a topic thoroughly and deeply.
Looking toward the future, Gardner expects MI theory and practice to expand in a number of directions:
l. Application of these ideas in institutions other than schools—for example, museums, government, the workplace;
2. Devising of computer software and virtual realities that present or teach the same topics via the activation of several intelligences;
3. Exploration of the genetic bases for the various intelligences. When Gardner began his work, almost nothing was known about the genetics of various abilities. This situation should change dramatically in coming years.
4. Refinement of our understanding of the neural bases of intelligences and the ways that they develop and interact. Gardner’s original theory was based in significant part on the knowledge of brain specialization available around 1980. There has been an explosion of knowledge about neural networks and connections since this time, as well as the emergence of many new techniques for assessing brain structure and functioning in vivo. This knowledge can and will lead to a superior delineation of human capacities, and, in all probability, to a more authoritative statement of the boundaries between and across different human intelligences.
5. Study of how MI theory has been implemented around the world. While MI ideas have been picked up in a broad range of developed and developing societies, the ways in which these ideas have been used, and the obstacles that they have encountered, differ dramatically and at times in unexpected ways. To document this trend, Gardner and colleagues Jie-Qi Chen and Seana Moran, are editing a book that contains over two dozen essays by theorists and practitioners from a wide gamut of countries and institutions. Among the most striking is the Explorama at Danfoss Universe in Denmark, an entire theme park based on MI theory. Many of the authors gathered at the March 2008 meeting of the American Educational Research Association; it is expected that the edited book, to be published by Jossey-Bass, will appear in 2009.
In addition to the question of how MI theory has been understood and fashioned in different soils, the book will also address the more general issue of how ‘educational memes’ travel.
6. Synthesis of MI theory with other work currently being undertaken by Gardner and colleagues. Over the last dozen years, Gardner and a team of researchers have been studying ‘good work’ ( This work focuses on the benevolent uses to which human intelligence, creativity, and leadership can be (but are not necessarily) applied. More recently, Gardner’s research group has also begun to examine how the current generation of young people is being affected by the new digital media—another area ripe for investigation in terms of MI theory. Finally, Gardner has ventured into the policy arena, as in his recent book Five Minds for the Future. Gardner is pondering the relationships – as well as the tensions—between how human beings are understood by scientific study (as in MI theory) and how they should be nurtured by educational institutions.
This article was written in 2008 . At this date Howard Gardner has retired from front line duty at the Harvard Grad. School of Education and Project Zero which he headed up for years. While with project Zero Gardner constantly promoted the idea that L.L.L. held the key to successful ageing and that the arts are the most dynamic and appropriate form of LLL at all ages.

 The following abstract is included as an overview of  a very much longer article which I found helpful in understanding [partially] one of the big issues in contemporary Gerantology; that of the evolutionary theory of ageing.

Evolutionary Theories of 
Aging and Longevity

Leonid A. Gavrilov* and Natalia S. Gavrilova
Center on Aging, NORC/University of Chicago, 1155 East 60th Street, Chicago, IL 60637*Corresponding author 
E-mail:gavrilov[at], website:
Received November 1, 2001; Revised December 5, 2001; Accepted December 7, 2001; Published February 7, 2002
The purpose of this article is to provide students and researchers entering the field of aging studies with an introduction to the evolutionary theories of aging, as well as to orient them in the abundant modern scientific literature on evolutionary gerontology. The following three major evolutionary theories of aging are discussed: 1) the theory of programmed death suggested by August Weismann, 2) the mutation accumulation theory of aging suggested by Peter Medawar, and 3) the antagonistic pleiotropy theory of aging suggested by George Williams. We also discuss a special case of the antagonistic pleiotropy theory, the disposable soma theory developed by Tom Kirkwood and Robin Holliday. The theories are compared with each other as well as with recent experimental findings. At present the most viable evolutionary theories are the mutation accumulation theory and the antagonistic pleiotropy theory; these theories are not mutually exclusive, and they both may become a part of a future unifying theory of aging.
Evolutionary theories of aging are useful because they open new opportunities for further research by suggesting testable predictions, but they have also been harmful in the past when they were used to impose limitations on aging studies. At this time, the evolutionary theories of aging are not ultimate completed theories, but rather a set of ideas that themselves require further elaboration and validation. This theoretical review article is written for a wide readership.

Best bets:
- a small painting show at a small east London galley- Matthew Musgrave at Supplement Gallery
- the Picasso Vollard  Suite at the National Gallery
- the Zang Huan show at White Cube in Bermondsey
- The Anthony Gormley show at White Cube Hoxton