The Loss and Disrespect of Physical and Visual Intelligence within the Australian University Sector

Adam Newcombe
2010 Conference

The Loss and Disrespect of Physical and Visual Intelligence within the Australian University Sector Dr Adam Newcombe Edith Cowen University, Australia Abstract Physical studio based skill tuition and activities are being lost across university curricula. Indeed academic managers are squeezing the time spent on physical activities by expanding compulsory student time spent on textual and digital communication activities. Sensorimotor or bodily-kinesthetic development and cognitive or spatial development are inextricably linked, indeed the manual skill of holding a marking tool and learning to write defines the entire edifice of academic thought. The simplistic notion that we only have to write about something to be intellectually and academically valid, misses the profound importance of learning complex bodily-kinesthetic, visual and creative skills. The paper will investigate the need for visual and physical studio-based units to be included across the academic sector. It explores why manual learning activities have been so poorly served by academic managers, which is leading to a lack of understanding and respect, within contemporary Australian academe, for the essential and central importance of non-textual knowledge constructs and literacies. The thrust of this paper is directed at the entire undergraduate curricula. The suggested integration and implementation of creative, visual studio-based units across the undergraduate cohort will have resounding impacts on the work of postgraduate students. It will also open up whole areas of active research. Keywords: Manual Skills, Physical Intelligence, Material Literacy, Visual Literacy, Knowledge Constructs

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About the author

Dr Adam Newcombe is a designer, artist and educator with a passion for studiobased learning. His research interests cover the use of graphic information and image in the analysis of the historic story, graphic novels, digital imaging, 19th century commercial lithographic and etched imagery and paper craft. He is a senior lecturer and coordinator of Graphics at Edith Cowan University. Currently he is in the final stages of publishing a graphic novel and preparing digital image work, also for publication. An extended version of this paper can be found at