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Habit of Mind 10 (HoM)

January 23rd, 2020 · No Comments

HOM 10

Habit of Mind 10: Gathering Data through all Senses.

We found a fantastic chapter dedicated solely to this habit and the best thing we can do is just offer it to you, openly and in raw form. So we do things differently today. Here it is.

Observe perpetually.

Henry James

“The brain is the ultimate reductionist. It reduces the world to its elementary parts: photons of light, molecules of fragrance, sound waves, vibrations of touch—all of which send electrochemical signals to individual brain cells that store information about lines, movements, colors, smells, and other sensory inputs.

Intelligent people know that all information gets into the brain through sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, and visual. Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning is derived from the environment by observing or taking it in through the senses. To know a wine it must be drunk; to know a role it must be acted; to know a game it must be played; to know a dance it must be performed; to know a goal it must be envisioned. Those whose sensory pathways are open, alert, and acute absorb more information from the environment than those whose pathways are withered, immune, and oblivious to sensory stimuli.

The more regions of the brain that store data about a subject, the more interconnection there is. This redundancy means students will have more opportunities to pull up all those related bits of data from their multiple storage areas in response to a single cue. This cross-referencing of data strengthens the data into something that’s learned rather than just memorized (Willis, 2007).

We are learning more and more about the impact of the arts and music on improved mental functioning. Forming mental images is important in mathematics and engineering; listening to classical music seems to improve spatial reasoning. Social scientists use scenarios and role playing; scientists build models; engineers use CAD-CAM; mechanics learn through hands-on experimentation; artists explore colors and textures; and musicians combine instrumental and vocal music.

Some students, however, go through school and life oblivious to the textures, rhythms, patterns, sounds, and colors around them. Sometimes children are afraid to touch things or get their hands dirty. Some don’t want to feel an object that might be slimy or icky. They operate within a narrow range of sensory problem-solving strategies, wanting only to describe it but not illustrate or act it, or to listen but not participate.”

Costa, A. and Kallick, B. (n.d.). Learning and leading with habits of mind.


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