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bokura ha kitto matteru kimi to mata aeru hibi wo sakura namiki no michi no ue de te wo furi sakebu yo donna ni kurushii toki mo kimi ha waratteiru kara kujikesou ni narikakete mo gambareru ki ga shita yo kasumiyuku keshiki no naka ni ano hi no uta ga kikoeru sakura sakura ima sakihokoru setsuna ni chiriyuku sadame to shitte saraba tomo yo tabidachi no toki kawaranai sono omoi wo ima ima nara ieru darou ka itsuwari no nai kotoba kagayakeru kimi no mirai wo negau hontou no kotoba utsuriyuku machi ha maru de bokura wo sekasu you ni sakura sakura tada maiochiru itsuka umarekawaru toki wo shinji naku na tomo yo ima sekibetsu no toki kazaranai ano egao desaa sakura sakura iza maiagare towa ni sanzameku hikari wo abite saraba tomo yo mata kono basho de aou sakura maichiru michi no ue de

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Why is origami so good for you?

from :CapeCanaveral page's Read this if you are a parent of a kid who would like to learn origami... ...or if you are a kid who wonders why your art teacher thinks origami is important. I am writing from the perspective of an art teacher who likes to exercise a child's brain; to stretch them out in directions that could use a little flexibility so they build an awareness of alternative ways of thinking, and to strengthen them in areas that will serve them in regular academic tasks. Origami does all that in an enjoyable way. Kids don't give much verbal feedback to a teacher, but they have told me they really like learning origami. They don't say it is easy, but they do say they like it! I think that is one reason they do like it...it does take concentration and care, it does take many steps, it makes you feel like you have conquered something when you are done. Best of all, you end up with a very cool model. This magic of turning a flat piece of paper into a three dimensional sculpture is, perhaps, the most enchanting feature of origami. Kids feel "empowered"! After all, if you can transform scrap paper into a jumping frog, you have POWER! Parents often tell me that their daughter or son came home and spent a week filling the house with a favorite model. Why do you think kids do that? (Adults usually do one, or two to get it just right, then stop until they need a gift for someone.) The ability to visualize, to actually "see" in your head, a shape you want to fold is a talent that can be strengthened with simple practice. (Don't look for references to supporting research in this draft of this essay...it's out there somewhere though!) Have you ever heard the old story of the sculptor who was asked how he knew what to carve? His answer was, "It's easy! I just see the sculpture and take away what shouldn't be there...". This talent is obviously useful to visual artists, but it is also of the greatest use to our creative scientists and engineers. And, if you are looking at this page on your computer monitor you know how important graphics and visual methods for presenting information are becoming. In fact, when analyzing huge amounts of data a graphic interpretation is often the only way a person can really take in the meaning, the pattern, quickly (or at all). Origami is a relatively painless way to have kids realize the importance of sequencing. Teachers spend a ton of time with some kids because the child doesn't understand that some things have to be done in a certain order of steps to be successful. Writing stories where there is a beginning, middle and end may seem a simple concept...but it isn't to lots of young people. The concept of "first things first" has to be learned. If a child hasn't imprinted on the pattern of a well built story, then they simply don't see the importance of following a sequence of steps. Arithmetic relies on the first things first stuff, too. The cool thing about origami is that I do not have to tell a student that it their model isn't "right"; they can see that they didn't get where they wanted to go (when your swan looks more like a spit ball that isn't hard!)...and they back up and try the sequence of steps with more respect and care on their own. If you have kids you know that their ability to estimate the relative size of things develops during grade school years. In math they have to work on getting a feel for fractions. Half a pizza, a fourth of the team, a third of our class and so forth are concepts that need to become quickly and accurately understood. Origami is built of paper folded to those fractions. "Exactly one half" has a more real feel to it after a child sees what happens when you don't have it! (...the small "half" of a candy bar holds the same lesson.) Basic geometry concepts are painlessly learned (we very commonly have to bisect the corner of a true square to form the two identical right triangles....and having to cope with the knowledge that a "sort of" square doesn't do this, or, even more basically, a square behaves very differently than a rectangle, is tough on kids. By fifth grade many kids who have had no personal reason for filing these facts away are still clueless. True learning only occurs when kids feel that the subject has importance to them in a direct and personal way. (It is easier to see the need for learning multiplication if you are trying to calculate the value of your very large trading card collection, for another instance.)

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