Children and Digital Art

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  04 April 2005
Another thought that people have brought up, children are mostly of the mentality that "I can do anything"...rather like the idea that they can fly if they just flap their arms hard enough. They enter into things with this enthusiasm and belief that they can do it, and so they can. A lot (not all) of adults will try new things with the idea "this is going to be really hard" and "I wont be able to do this very well when I first start"...and so that attitude restricts them. A quote I rather like is "argue for your limitations, and they're yours"
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  04 April 2005
yea adults are often stuck in their own made up framework of patterns. All their ideas, knowledge and opinions are related in that way of thinking. We all do that automatically to understand things and filter irrelevant information. But the older you get the more firmly you stick to your ways of thinking. Children are far more intuitive. They discover the world with a 'clean' sheet without having prejudges about something. Im not quite sure but i thought it was Zen-buddhism where you can train yourself to detach of everything you have learned or had opinions about. Of course, you cannot return to childhood but its at least a way to approach things with a 'fresh' mind. Im sorry if im talking rubbish.
  04 April 2005
IMO - Kids have wonderful flexible suptle minds, and absolutley no fear of new experiences - they thrive on the new. My daughter is quite young, and is as enthusiastic about photoshop, as most kids are about computer games. Actually, I think she approaches PS as if it were a video game. She is exploring so many features of this program, and finding her way around it so adeptly, that I am constantly amazed. If my daughter asks me to look at something she is working on I drop whatever I am doing, and spend time with her, sharing in her latest adventure. I think natural curiousity and parental approval are both very important forces. For me it is very important to be encouraging, but not judgemental (no stage parenting!).

I think the shift comes when the individual encountering the new experience, begins to place a premium on the new experience, in terms of return value - you know the "OK and just what am I going to get out of this?" routine.

During university (way back when) one of my professors - also a prominent Canadian artist - coined (or at least exposed us students), to a wonderful phrase to describe the things done for no other purpose than our enrichment: "totally useless mind expanding things".

I think as long as we can make room in our lives to do "totally useless mind expanding things" without feeling guilty about wasting time, we can thrive creatively, perhaps part of childrens success in this regard, is that they have not yet been conditioned to continually look over ones shoulder at the clock - they can live in the moment.

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Last edited by gordonm : 05 May 2005 at 06:25 AM.
  04 April 2005
I've been reading through all of the previous messages, and I think we have missed part of the reason.

The first part, as several people have said, is that children have very little to compare to, so they are willing to try every option, but they stop when they should have continued to the differences an adult.

It is my belief that children learn faster than adults because they have fewer to experiences to compare. It is difficult to give a child's example of this, but I can give an adult example. I use to do telephone technical support for end user software. If anyone remembers PhotoFinish, that was the product that I supported. Well I would occasionally get the grandmother or grandfather who just purchased their first computer and really had not idea how to operate the system. When I told one nice, old lady to click the mouse on the program icon. I heard a few clinks in the background, and then she told me nothing happened. After a little brief conversation I found out that she had picked up the mouse as was tapping the screen with it.

Now several of you are laughing right now, but if you stop and think, you'll realize that she did exactly what I told her to do. She picked up that thing that was marked as a mouse, moved it over to the picture, and tried to make a clicking sound by tapping it on the screen. She knew how to move the mouse, and she knew what a click was, unfortunately everything she knew did not apply to the computer.

I was able to help her, but I had to train her over the phone. The easiest method was to take her to something she did know, and show her how it was the same. For example, I got her to move the mouse be having her move it like an iron, and then have her look at the screen. She was very quick to catch on, and she wrote the nicest letter to my boss at that time.

My point is that as you get older, you have more things to compare. You know these things work because they have worked for you before, therefore they should work for you here, but they don't. How quickly you can go through that list, and reach the I don't know stage is how fast you learn.

The second part of the equation is how aware you are of time. When you are young you have all the time in the world, quite literally. Prior to school, you can work as long as you like on any specific task you choose. You watch the ants build a hill, you swim in the pool, you kick the ball into the side of the house until you get bored, or decide there is something else that you want to do instead. I was told that I could be kept quiet for hours be simply handing me a pencil and a stack of paper.

Then came school, and my glimmer of a deadline. Things had to be done at a certain time. Assignments had to be completed. I had to learn to manage my time, and one of the first things that had to be learned was what to give up. Did I need to watch the ants build the hill? Was there something else that I could be doing besides kicking the ball? Okay, swimming was still important, but I am sure that all of you understand. What person out there was has not said, “Why am I doing _____, when I could painting?” This is the same thing that the friend said when someone tried to show them all of this geek stuff. It wasn't important enough for them to use their time on it.

To sum up I'm going to use the metaphor of a painting. When we are born, our minds are like blank pieces of paper with the bare hint of lines that will be our final image. As we grow, more lines appear in almost a random pattern that eventually begins to hint at what we are to become. We test, we play, and we learn. Then we practice what we learn, and some of the lines become darker, and true shapes take form. We grow older, and begin to learn to manage our time and learn what is important to us. Our mind begins to form details around the important focus of the picture. Background information is hinted at because it is less important. When something new comes along, your mind does one of a three different things. If it adds to the painting, it is quickly learned and remembered. If it changes the focus of the painting, it is left without detail so it does not detract. If it destroys the painting, it is rejected entirely. As we get older, the painting gets nearer to completion. For some, it is completed early on, and they find themselves stuck in their ways. For others, they start over every few years. Personally I don't think that anyone ever stops learning, but what we are willing to learn is based on how willing we are to repaint ourselves.

(Okay, I'm done with the soap box. Who wants it next?)
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by jebas: The first part, as several people have said, is that children have very little to compare to,

The second part of the equation is how aware you are of time. When you are young you have all the time in the world, quite literally.

This is what I was going to say, albeit in a highly compressed form, but I did literally have a deadline to meet so I put it off

Two things that make adults sometimes reluctant learners are the weight of learned experience and prejudices and an ever growing awareness of their own mortality whereas kids are uncritical and immortal. That's what I was going to say.

I do think though that the brain is like any other part of the body and if you don't exercise it, it will get flabby.

And don't forget, it was ADULTS who invented the Wacom.
  04 April 2005
Quote: And don't forget, it was ADULTS who invented the Wacom.

Hmmm - or maybe big kids!
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  04 April 2005
I've been really depressed about the direction where my career has been going for more than a year now.

Perhaps I should start listening to my inner child more often and start playing again.

Thank you for your insights, my friends.
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  04 April 2005
Thanks Ordibble, that's a perfect summary.

I admit that I will prattle. I've been that way ever since I found out you get payed by the word.
  04 April 2005
I think that the first part of jebas's post (that children have very little to compare to) can apply to adults, too. My mom has used a computer for a few months only, can barely send email, and has never used a drawing program before. When I showed her my new graphire, she instinctively knew how to draw with it. In fact, she had less trouble than some younger people who use computers a lot. I believe it's because her mouse handling doesn't yet come "from the spine", and thus doesn't interfere with pen handling.
  04 April 2005
jebas(sorry was looking at the wrong name), you are wrong. Basically kids are very aware of time, most of them will try a lot of tricks to make their parents forget to send them to bed. I did it all the time and so did my sister. I'm guessing that when your mind encounters something it can't get to grips with right away, it says to itself that it could be doing a gazillion other things that it won't have to waste time on learning. You've been prioritaiaing your existence according to standards that are put on you, like having to make money and other status things. You have learned to make the best of what you allready could do little bit and now don't learn other things. That's basically how I see it. Take it or leave it.
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  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by jmBoekestein: jebas(sorry was looking at the wrong name), you are wrong.

I think Jebas is right, but it's not so black and white as all that. First, it depends greatly on the age of the child involved. Second, there's a difference between knowing 8 o'clock means bedtime and estimating how long it will take to finish your homework. I learned how to tell time when I was a kid, but 30 years later I'm still trying to learn how to manage what the time I have.
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  04 April 2005
Well, I'm not entirely sure about this.. I guess it's the open-mindness.
I got my tablet for my 16th birthday (last year, that is). I only read about it before, but most of the artists complained how hard it is to get used to looking UP, at the screen, and not DOWN. I dunno, it was just easy for me to look up and not down.. and I got used to the pen pressures and sensitivity quite fast - all it takes is to just.. play around with brushes, no? =/ It *could* be because I've been messing around with graphics and such for a few years, though.
I let a few people try out my tablet and yeah, they had trouble with not looking at the tablet.

After all, sometimes I think I've never really grown.. I still feel like a child.
  04 April 2005
This is silly, it simply doesn't take ages to learn how to use a wacom just like it doesn't take ages to try out a computer game. I was going to elaborate awy more but it's basically this.

Kids need and want to learn, their attitude is often more of amazement and glee. Adults have seen it all, and will take any opportunity to boast their experience. Even if it's utterly cynical. It's not the clotting of the brain or time. It's their attitude, they still absorb knowledge and still take time to do their hobbies etc., I admit there is a truth to being reprogrammed by society, parents and what not. But that is not the actual problem because you can re-enter a different mindset and learn ten times as fast. I'm 100% certain of it.
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  04 April 2005
My wife is an educator. And we talked a lot about that.

When we learned how to use a machine, our brain it transforms her in an extension of our body, the machine becomes an arm, or leg...etc

To do that our brain it creates group of special neurons, as those servants for the legs and arms. The more new the person, easier to create neurons. It is that the explanation.

The fact of seeing a computer everyday (but not to play it) he doesn't make the child to learn, but in few minutes working with a computer, she already knows as doing.

Good books on that, are the one of the teacher Robert J Sternberg of the USA. Especially " Cognitive psychology "


ps.: sorry, but i dont read all mensages, perhaps somebody speak this.
  04 April 2005
jmBoekestein: Maybe this will help explain it.

I'm sorry that I did not make myself clearer. Like Ilikesoup points out, I was talking about the children extremely young, those that are not going to school yet. (And I am not referring to those that have been in daycare since 6 months age either.) Also your example of delaying bedtime does not really apply either. Delaying bedtime does not start until a parent goes, “Okay, it's time for bed.” Then the delaying tactics start. It's a reaction to a external stimuli. (I have a one and a three year old, so I am well aware of the tricks and when they occur.)

I was talking about forethought. Again, as Ilikesoup pointed out, there is a difference between reacting to something, and thinking, “If I do this now, I can do that later.” Children simply react to everything that is going on around them. If it interests them, they follow it. If it does not, they go find something else. It's rare that a child will think much beyond the immediate.

Maybe a better way of stating the difference is that adults understand the concept of a todo list. It's not so much the passage of time that adults understand better, but the concept that if I spend my time doing this, I will not have the time to something else. Therefore adults will generally prioritize their learning to things that they wish to achieve.

The reason for my long diatribe was to explain to Enyala why I thought that children seemed to be more willing to learn than adults. I did not state that children could learn more than adults. In fact I had ended my argument with the statement that I believed that everyone continues to learn. I was just trying to state that adults are more selective about what they want to learn, and how much time they are willing to put into it.
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