Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A sea change

position one, thinking about it
 A "sea change" refers to a radical, and apparently mystical, change.
It comes from from Shakespeare's The Tempest, 1610:

ARIEL [sings]:
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell

And so what is called for is a "sea change" in education that starts with our own lives as we investigate the relationship between hand and mind. While we have neglected the role the hands play in our own lives, the richness they offer to human culture is profound. While we can do ten thousand things each day never giving notice to our hands unless a nail is torn, the interrelationship between the hand and brain is also profound. The texture of human life is discerned and created through these seemingly simple instruments.

position two, on the other hand
The profound "sea change" comes as we re-frame our own understanding to a more a hands inclusive view.

There are things we learn about the hand and mind by observing how the hands gesture when we are engaged in thought. Position one shown above reflects the hand position when you are thinking about known things, delineating a starting point in your own observations. Position 2 is what could be called, "on the other hand." You will note that the position of the thumb is not decisive as in "thumbs up, or thumbs down" and the hand is not clenched but held open minded as though "grasping". The two gestures are made in quick relation to each other as one mentally explores the choice between two alternatives. Do a quick test. Position your hand as shown above and then rotate it to position two. Observe. Does this simple gesture bring observable shifts within your mind? Susan Goldin-Meadow at the University of Chicago Goldin-Meadow Lab for Gesture Studies believes that these simple human gestures are what we use to frame, direct and evaluate our thoughts. If so, how can we be as smart as we need to be if our hands are stilled as they are in too much of modern schooling. According to a recent study, the hands are integral to the process of thought. Gesturing while talking helps change your thoughts, study finds According to the study,
"Sometimes it’s almost impossible to talk without using your hands. These gestures seem to provide a visual clue to our thoughts, and a new theory suggests they may even change our thoughts by grounding them in action."
Make, fix and create.


  1. Great post. Even those who rely on lecture can gain from this. Letting your hands flow freely during a lecture can help engage the minds and bodies of the audience.

  2. Just try lecturing with your hands tied behind your back.Students should be encouraged to participate through gesture while students lecture. And doodle.

  3. I have been made fun of because of how I use my hands when I talk. It is just natural for some people to use their hands when they talk. I do not even realize I use them.

  4. Randy, people make fun of Italians for being so expressive with their gestures. But researchers have discovered that Norwegians, not known for such dramatic gestures actually gesture just as much, but in a more narrowly defined range of motion. Who knows why that is. Randy, all of us who have anything significant to say use gesture as a means of being more expressive, and to keep the flow of words and thoughts going.