Educational theories

Thanks to its capacities to replicate the musical behavior and evolve in an organic fashion with the user, IRMS translate into technological design several theoretical concepts of learning development and the theory of creativity:

– Mirror behaviour: The capacity to replicate the behaviour of others grounds on one part on non-conscious processing known as the chameleon effect (Chartrand, 1999). Recent studies (Lakin, 2003) suggest that the mere perception of another’s behavior automatically increases the likelihood of engaging in that behavior oneself. Neuroscientific studies root these non-conscious mechanisms in the mirror neuron system (MNS), a network of neurons, which become active during the execution and observation of actions ((Rizzolatti et Al. 2006).

– In the field of vocal and musical development, a similar structure based on repetition and variation has been observed by Stern (2004) and Trevarthen (2000) in the relationship between mother and infant, and by Imberty (2005) in the field of musical development. Anzieu (1996) calls this kind of infant experience ?musical wrapping’ of the Self, which renders the concept particularly well.

– From a educational point of view, similar interactions based on the mirroring behaviour, have also been observed recently in young children and adults while they play (Burnard 2000, Young 2004, McPherson 2006). This kind of interpersonal dimension has been recognized as a potential source of musical creativity for young children. In the field of pedagogical theories, the theory of variation (Pramling et Al. 2009) shall allow further studies about this issue.

– In particular, IRMS promote especially the “optimal experience” described by the Flow Theory introduced by Csikszentmiahlyi (1996). Flow describes the so-called “optimal experience” as situations in which people reach mental states resulting from an optimal balance between skills and challenges. The Continuator mentioned above has been shown to be a type of “Flow machine” in the sense that it produces, by definition, a response corresponding to the skill level of the user. This approach also allows for the progressive and natural scaffolding of complexity in interactions, which is not the case for most pedagogical tools designed to achieve fixed pedagogical goals (Pachet 2004). Most importantly, Flow theory introduces a series of concrete indicators, which can be measured during recorded experiments (Addessi et Al. 2006), This strong potential of IRMS will be use to enhance the state of “well-being” and creativity in children and adults over the interaction with the MIROR Platform.

– IRMS also exploit the Vygotskian concept of zone of proximal development (ZPD), t In this way, IRMS establish an interaction between pairs, where the mirroring reflection creates a balance between challenges and skills, a basis to create Flow experiences and creative processes. This characteristic will enable the MIROR Platform to enhance self-regulation, self-initiated activities, and the learner-centered approach.

– Furthermore, IRMS support children in mixing old musical skills with new ones, in an original and autotelic way, according to the “fiction cognitive” perspective (Guerra 2002), where the innovative technology enables the subject to see and listen in a more original way, bringing out previous childhood experiences.

– IRMS generate very complex reactions, where the children are expected to form differentiated judgments about “self” and “others”. In literature, these forms of awareness are considered crucial for the building of the child’s identity. IRMS, by means of its mirror effect, help towards the construction of a musical self, or, in the words of Turkle (1984), a “Second self“, where not only the machine seems to think, but also think like the user.

– Finally, the MIROR project owes to the Laban Movement Analysis (LMA), elaborated by the Hungarian dance artist and theorist Rudolf Laban (1879-1958). LMA has been widely used in the field of dance education and was applied also to music and movement education (Addessi & Maffioli 2002). This analytical approach is the basis of the expressive gesture analysisimplemented by the EYESWeb technology. The MIROR project will exploit this theoretical framework coming from the dance context to develop musical abilities of children.