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Friday, 13 June 2014

Research Proposal; the effect of knife use on the development of manual dexterity in children.

Children are not normally given access to knives, there may be a number of reasons for this in our modern UK society, perhaps we don’t feel they are necessary in everyday life any more, perhaps we are concerned that children will hurt themselves or perhaps it is because we think of knives as weapons.

Whatever the reason; it may be that we are actually depriving children of opportunities to develop a responsible attitude towards knives, an understanding of the risks associated with using them and how to protect themselves by developing a safe technique. Imagine also the further developmental potential of helping children learn to use knives: The self confidence that will come from being able to use a tool which they think is very ‘grown up’, and the satisfaction of being able to do or make something with a knife. What I’m particularly interested in though is the potential physical development in terms of dexterity and fine motor skill which may come from regular use of knives and hand tools. Other cultures seem to introduce knives to children from a younger age and we can presume that this exposure will equip them with the skills to use that knife. Eventually our young children will need to use a knife in a kitchen or for other activities and I propose an experiment to test whether more general dexterity can be developed and improved as a result of knife use over a period of time.

Method

This study will look at children taking part in Forest Schools (or similar programmes) and will only look at children under the age of 11. Before commencement of the programme of learning involving the use of knives a questionnaire will be completed about each participant to record what activities they may be involved with which could influence their level of dexterity. They will be given a simple dexterity test and their performance will be recorded.
The participant will complete the programme of learning involving the use of knives (and other hand tools where appropriate), suitable tasks that children of this age could get involved with include; 

   Peeling and cutting vegetables and fruit
  Cooking tasks
  Shaving bark off a stick
  Sharpening pencils
  Making sticks for toasting marshmallows on a fire
  Cutting string
  Splitting kindling for the fire

The dexterity test completed before the commencement of the programme will be repeated after at least six weeks of regular involvement with using knives and the results will be recorded.

I aim to compile the results of these surveys and the results of the dexterity tests and draw conclusions as to whether using knives regularly can help the development of dexterity. 

If you would be interested in participating in this research please get in touch at gda.guy@googlemail.com  to register your interest and receive a full method for the project. 


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