Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Intuition - a 6th Sense for Learning (and Teaching)

We've written about Annie Murphy Paul in the past - if you are learning or teaching anything - it's well worth following on twitter and reading her blog

In her piece The Science of Intuition: An Eye-Opening Guide to Your Sixth Sense she encourages all of us to be more sensitive to the "body's signals and tap the inner powers of your mind."  

For this article she presents results of studies that include almost every one of the senses; from sights, sounds, and even smells, to simple gut reactions. The findings are interesting to say the least, and sometimes even counter-intuitive.  

"Our brains are processing information even when we're not paying attention", says Ken Paller, PhD. "and with the brain's analytical system occupied by another task, the intuitive system—which excels at picking up the gist of a scene or situation—is better able to do its work." 

In one study, Ap Dijksterhuis, a psychologist at Radboud University in the Netherlands found that distraction can help us make better decisions. It seems that while focusing on something else, "the unconscious mind was processing information and integrating it into a valid selection." Leading Annie Murphy Paul to conclude, "Focus schmocus!"

As an educator I could really benefit from tapping into the clues I'm sending (and receiving). Intuitiveness in teaching is a two-way street, especially in our niche of one-on-one music instruction. I will try and be more sensitive to my "gut" and see if I can make use of my sixth sense throughout the day. Read the full article here and see if there may be some practical applications in your classroom, home, or workplace.  I look forward to your feedback!