Saturday, September 09, 2006

The significance of the hands relative to the other sense organs of the human body is described very clearly in how we talk about what these organs do. The eyes see. The ears hear. The tongue tastes. The nose smells. The hands not only touch, they also "feel." While the sensing done by the eyes, ears and nose are at some distance. The sensing of the hands is more deeply personal and is described in terms alluding to deep emotional connections. Hearing and seeing describe the acquisition of ideas and knowledge. The sensing activity of the hands, "feeling," describes what goes on at the very core of the human being; the place some refer to as the "heart." We describe our deepest emotional states in terminology that reflects sensing through the hands. We describe being touched, when stories told by others induce us to feel most deeply. We describe as touching, those circumstances that remind us of the deepest and richest levels of human experience.

There was an interesting issue of Time magazine 17 April 2006. The cover story, "Dropout Nation," described the problem we face in the United States with a dropout rate of 30 percent. The consistent theme expressed by our children, those who drop out, and even those who don't is that school is boring and irrelevant to their lives.

With students sitting idly at desks with hands stilled, can you see how we have failed to engage their hearts?

You might be interested in the "homunculus" diagram published by Penfield and Rasmussen in the 1950 book, The Cerebral Cortex of Man. It illustrates the seemingly disproportionate portion of the cerebral cortex utilized by the human hand. In the diagram, sensing is at the left, and motor function in on the right, illustrating the primal role of the human hand in both the sensing and creating sides of human endeavor.

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