Rich objects

On cultural artifacts, the science of child development, and the child’s development of science.

image

Science is fueled by passion, a passion that is often attached to the world of objects much as the artist is attached to his paints, the poet to her words. From my first days at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, I saw this passion for objects everywhere. My students and colleagues told how they were drawn into science by the physics of sand castles, by playing with soap bubbles, by the mesmerizing power of a crystal radio.

Since this was the early days of computer culture, there was also talk of new objects. Some people identified with their computers, experiencing these machines as extensions of themselves. For them, computers were useful for thinking about larger questions, questions of determinism and free will, of mind and mechanism …

Objects don’t nudge every child toward science, but for some, a rich object world is the best way to give science a chance. Given the opportunity, children will make intimate connections, connections they must construct on their own …

If we attend to young scientists’ romance with objects, we are encouraged to make children comfortable with the idea that falling in love with things is part of what we expect of them. We are encouraged to introduce the periodic table as poetry and LEGOs as a form of art.


from “The Romance of Objects,” by Sherry Turkle, Seed, 9 January 2009

Originally published at culture-making.com.

Add Your Comments