Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mind Games' Legacy: Mind-Body Connections for Learning

Richard Gilder wrote a wonderful, cogent post about the relationship between the mind and body -- the topic explicitly was the Olympics.

However, it's the same in school. When we present abstract concepts to Years 4, 5, and 6 in State schools across London, we always involve the body to engage the mind more fully.

I can't sing (trust me), but last year I taught a song about case endings to 25 classes. I asked them to stand up, use hand movements, and use their voices in different ways while singing.

After a long summer, the kids have forgot a lot. But they still know their case endings.

A Legacy

More important even that children learn the material with which they are presented, they are learning how to learn. Simple strategies such as standing up, or creating gestures, creates a legacy of understanding how they think. We've seen that this works both for pupils who are considered high achievers and low.

In other words, CAGSE is working to efface this distinction between pupils.

Now THAT would be a legacy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Not Just In Your Head: Let's Talk

Continuing from the last post:

Using the body and mind together makes teaching exponentially effective, regardless of subject area.


This all might seem tremendously obvious, but if it is, why isn't the mind-body connection used more? Pupils can stand up or change tables while learning without chaos ensuing. Even such simple additions to chalk-and-talk help.

Classroom teachers are burdened with so many deliverables (as they say in the business world) that many have given up on the creative potential that got them into teaching in the first place. One can't blame them for giving up.

Here's a way to be creative and effective that takes very little work. If any of you try it, let me know how it works. Furthermore, let us know what you invent -- we're always looking for new strategies related to the body-mind connection. And contact me if you'd like to know more about what we've used (and what has worked well) so far.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Training Day At CAGSE

When Last We Saw Our Heroes . . .

They were arranged in a circle in a training room at the Swiss Cottage Library. Zanna Wing-Davey, Director of Latin Studies for CAGSE, had each teacher throwing bean bags at the others after first catching the recipient's eye. This followed a game in which bags could only be thrown after a name was called (the correct name for the correct teacher) before catching an eye and tossing.

The exercise was simple but so effective that 12 strangers got to know each other's names and general tendencies in about 5 minutes.

Latin Games

The two days were full of such connections between ideas and the way the body responds to the world outside it. Jen Pearcy offered ways to create discipline, all through theatre exercises.

Jonathan Goddard did a piece on how to keep an entire class engaged when the pupils in it start at different levels of achievement and understanding. Again, mind-body connections integrated into intellectual strategy.

More in the next post.