Tuesday, May 24, 2016

the science of touch

Tim Holton sent this article about touch: What the Science of Touch Says About Us. And what we can hope is that someday education begins to make use of what science knows about learning. So far, they have not, for education tends to go its merry way, ignoring our most useful and important learning resources.

We seem to know the power of visual representations. For example, Comenius, the father of modern pedagogy, introduced the first picture books during his lifetime (1592-1670). But the power of touch has not been so well understood, and has therefore been ignored.

The work of Craik and Lockhart (1972) explored how the senses were utilized in the formation of memory.
Tactile memory representations are similar in nature to visual representations, although there is not enough data to reliably compare the strength of the two kinds of stimuli. One study suggests that there is a difference in mental processing level due to innate differences between visual and tactile stimuli representations.[18] In this study, subjects were presented with an object in both visual and tactile form (a subject is shown a sphere but cannot touch it, and later is given a similar sphere to only hold and not view). Subjects had more trouble identifying size difference in visual fields than using tactile feedback. A suggestion for the lower level of size processing in visual fields is that it results from the high variance in viewed object size due to perspective and distance.
So, in other words, the hands and eyes process learning in a similar manner, although using different parts of the brain, and with the eyes being less efficient at determining scale.

One would think that the formation of memory would be of foremost importance in education, right? What is the point of going to such lengths to present massive amounts of information if the children are not to remember a thing? In any case, research shows that memories are made strong and long lasting when all the senses are used if the making of them. For example, when students do something real.

Back in the days of educational Sloyd and the widespread distribution of the Kindergarten method, the close and powerful relationship between hand and eye was widely understood. But in time, the hands were shoved aside. They require a higher level of engagement, and for some reason, the hands and the training of the hands did not fit the scheme of massive indoctrination that was to take place in schooling.

Make, fix, create, and extend to others an understanding of learning likewise.

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