Info Tech Embraces Holistic Learning Concepts: Movement helps learning
by Beverley Paine
I came across this article 'Bringing the Body to Digital Learning' today and felt encouraged that researchers and information technology designers and developers are getting to grips with something so obvious yet necessary.
"Treating mind and body as separate is an old and powerful idea in Western culture, dating to Descartes and before. But this venerable trope is facing down a challenge from a generation of researchers-in cognitive science, psychology, neuro science, even philosophy-who claim that we think with and through our bodies."
I love how we relearn obvious things like this but because they are in the context of tertiary education / research the knowledge is elevated to 'real' or 'important' status...
Reading through this article I immediately thought about why people gesture when they speak or communicating non-verbally - the movement of arms, hands and fingers, facial features and body. We wouldn't do it if it wasn't an important and integral aspect of thinking, learning and communicating.
I am heartened that
'embodied cognition' is starting to become noticed and used as a "lens through which to look at educational technology" and how it can be used not only with children but adults too. The article goes on to say that even subtle movements can improve learning outcomes and I remembered my youngest child's animated retelling of the story and what he did in the computer game he'd been playing - he couldn't stand still, moving his whole body as he shared the action and his thoughts and feelings about it to me. Children live and learn and express their understanding of life through their whole bodies - and this needs to be encouraged and allowed and space and time made for it.
Research now shows us that "bodily movements provide the memory with additional cues with which to represent and retrieve the knowledge learned. Taking action in response to information, in addition to simply seeing or hearing it, creates a richer memory trace and supplies alternative avenues for recalling the memory later on" - something that is very apparent to those of us who observe our children learning naturally at home.
Physical movement is an important aspect of young children's institutionalised education though not as much as it was when I was a child in 'infant school' decades ago: circle games, balancing activities, dancing and movement were prescribed daily activities. Free range home educated children simply play and help with household chores - physical activity is a natural and encouraged aspect of daily life.
Information technology dominates our lives and those of our children now and there is no turning back to the 'good old days'. Integrating physical activity and the benefits and advantages this brings to the learning environment of children is a sensible and I think much needed step. Especially as we're now informed that sitting down for many hours a day can take years off our lives...
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