“In front of a screen, the child is passive. He is dumbfounded, literally, and he does not learn anything “are the words of a brutal lucidity that the neuropsychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik holds in an interview given to Le Monde , at the” Assises de la maternelle “held in Paris last March.
Our society is digitizing itself, it’s no secret. We are all users of these (small) tools that have changed the way we live, communicate and even learn. Children, and very young children, are the first users because computer, tablet and smartphone are an integral part of their daily lives. Children aged 1 to 6 spend an average of 4 hours 10 per week on the web according to the UNAF (National Union of Family Associations).
Digital is too often reduced to only screen interfaces in which the child acts passively. However, digital tools are much more complex, smartphones for example, are equipped with many sensors that can measure movement and gestures. This opens the field of uses to a new digital taking into account the movement of the body in real space …
Put the body back in motion
At CRI Paris , in collaboration with IRCAM-STMS , we explore this digital other that makes the body a medium of interaction with the digital environment. It is this “digital without screen” that highlights the tools developed by the team “Interaction Sound Music Movement” of the IRCAM-STMS. In these experimental projects, the smartphone can become a musical instrument, a sound object that reacts to the actions of its users.
During the Nuit Blanche 2018 at CRI Paris, we have set up with IRCAM-STMS, the scenario of The Sleeping Giant . In this interactive story, participants are equipped with smartphones hanging on their hands. Throughout this story, told in voice over, young and old are invited to reproduce the gestures dictated by dancers.
The smartphones translate them into sounds – each gesture corresponds to a sound (resonance of steps on the floor, noise of flowing water, chirping of birds, etc.). Participants must be precise in their movement in order to animate the story in a coherent way. By contagion of the gesture, the interaction is no longer verbal, it is bodily.
In our exploratory research work within the IRC Motion Lab, we are also creating digital and tangible devices. Each device of the scenario entitled “Chantier des sensations” is composed of several elements integrated into textile envelopes: sensor, light source and battery. At first, the children are brought to assemble the devices to learn the basics of the composition of an electronic circuit.
In a second step, they look for the precise gestures that will put each device into action – banging, blowing, shaking, stroking, moistening. The dialogue that follows invites them to become aware of their sensations (softness, roughness for example) and their emotions (tenderness, anger, disappointment among others).
A paradigm shift
Passivity, individual use, lack of creativity and absorption in the virtual world are the main criticisms put forward by early childhood actors when talking about digital education.
In our research, we seek to reverse this paradigm. The use is no longer passive since the interaction with the digital tool is bodily. She is no longer individual either thanks to these devices of collective narrative. Creativity is done here by the body, and the precision of its movement encourages the psychomotor development of the child. In addition, the disappearance of the screen stimulates the imagination, exceeding the phenomenon of absorption in the virtual world.
These scenarios also highlight the values carried by alternative pedagogies such as Montessori, Decroly or Reggio Emilia, that is to say the psychomotor and perceptive development of the child, autonomy, investment and mutual aid. as well as the exploration of the environment by the body. The alternative pedagogies as digital education without display oppose the Cartesian dualism by placing the body in the heart of learning, a fundamental value for the development of young children ( Piaget Jean, Bärbel Inhelder (2012). The psychology the child , Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 156 p .)
Resources for kindergarten
Through a research process that is both theoretical and applied, the scenarios are developed in collaboration with early childhood professionals and tested in nursery schools.
Indeed, although the environment of young children has been digitized, this is not the case for kindergartens. The digital revolution has left teachers somewhat confused because they do not have sufficient resources – tools, methods, environments – to prepare children for today’s ever-changing world. This is also why technologies are generally perceived negatively in early childhood education.
Our devices aim to support teachers in the digital transition by equipping them with pedagogical and numerical scenarios that accompany their pedagogy without alienating the current tools and methods. By reversing a paradigm of “school in the digital rather than digital in the school”, our research explores how to make teachers actors and creators of digital education.
Author Bios: Marion Voillot is a PhD Student at the Interdisciplinary Research Center (IRC), Frederic Bevilacqua is Research Director at IRCAM-STMS at Sorbonne Universities and Joel Chevrier is a Professor of Physics at Grenoble Alpes University