What If You Could Read Maps With Your Feet?

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Could you read maps with your feet?
That’s not quite how we read maps, eh?

Some of us need directions, and need to close our eyes.
Some of us need to see a picture. And print the picture.
Some of us need explicit left-right directions.

But what if you weren’t any of those people mentioned above?

What if you read maps with your feet?
Gillian Lynne is a dancer.
Back in the 1930’s she was doing miserably at school.
The pictures didn’t help. The words didn’t help.

Obviously, nothing the teachers did or said got Gillian’s attention.
And she spiralled into, what we’d today call, a ‘challenged child.’
She was unfocused.
Fidgety.
Refused to learn.

So her mother took her to a doctor
Luckily the doctor wasn’t a teacher.
He turned on the radio, sneaked out of the room, and then asked Gillian’s mother to look at what Gillian was doing.

So what was she doing?
She was dancing.

Gillian didn’t think with her head. She thought with her feet.

All those words, and pictures, and blah-blah that was being taught at school was completely wasted on Gillian.
Because her method of learning, wasn’t words, or picture, or lecture-related.
It was all about dance.

Now here’s the sad story: Gillian went on to be famous
She went on to join the Royal Ballet.
She worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, at West End, and was cast in roles on British Television.
She was the choreographer on the world-famous Andrew Lloyd Weber musical: Cats.
And then The Phantom of the Opera.

She was the director and choreographer of the Muppet Show.
She started her own dance school.
She did this and did that.

So why do I call it sad?
What if Gillian weren’t famous?
What if Gillian didn’t do what she did to become famous, but simply settled down for the rest of her life in the suburbs?

What then?

There are six billion talented people on the planet, all being fed with the school-system of teaching.
And for all practical reasons, at least five billion are getting the wrong instructions.

Which of course brings up the question
Do we really have dumb kids?
Do we really have dumb adults?
Do we really think that there are un-creative people out there?
Do we really think that Gillian couldn’t read maps by dancing on the map with her feet?

The method of teaching is wrong.
Yes, wrong.
We’re all fed with this same funnel of words. Mostly words.

The biggest chunk of your education is a matter of reading a book.
But what if someone could teach you through cartoons?
Or what if someone could teach you through music?
Or what if someone could teach you through dance?

The method of teaching is wrong.
Has always been. Well, it’s been right for some and wrong for many.
And it’s because we’ve never recognised the most important factor of all.
The factor that some of us, can indeed read maps best with our feet.

So how do you think best?
Post your answer in the comments below

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sean

What’s kinda ironic, is this blog is full of words too. Which is I try to mix it up with video, maps, illustrations etc. And yes, I hope to open a dance class soon too 😉

Dave

Sean,

Great post!

I think best in a live group. I feed off the energy the others. And enjoy batting around ideas.

Sean

I think best on the phone or during a live presentation. It drives me crazy. Because there I’m supposed to be presenting, but there are a zillion ideas flowing off my head. And there’s no paper to write it down. On the phone, I can do that. But when I’m presenting, a paper is a million miles away.

So I have to mentally bookmark the idea and link it to the point in my presentation or speech. And then if I get to a piece of paper after the speech soon enough, I can record it after all.

Sometimes I’ve been on the phone being interviewed and someone will ask a simple enough question and I’ll give an answer that’s so ‘out of left field’ that even I haven’t thought of it before. And it just flows.

I tend to think when I’m talking.

I’m at my worst sitting in a classroom.

Perry Droast

My son was one of those children that was medicated for being too active during class. At the age of 7 he thanked his mother for giving him the medication. It allowed him to spend the day in school without getting in trouble. Or at least not so much trouble.

However, all the staff loved him. He would help the janitor and groundskeeper do their work during lunch and recess.

At the age of 10 we took him off the medication because it was stifling him too much. He managed to survive the education system and now he’s quite good at his job. He came home one day and said “I can do this without medication”. And for the most part he did.

He had a couple teachers that couldn’t deal with his fast and furious approach to life, but he still managed to pass his classes and graduate high school and a technical school.

In fact, the last two companies he’s worked for always have him do his regular job as well as other stuff they would normally farm out, like building web interfaces so all the employees can see schedules, access reference materials from home, etc. He manages to do his regular work and all the extra stuff too. And many of his co-workers resent it. Weird.

Yet if you ask him, he’ll tell you doesn’t have a creative bone in his body.

It’s very hard to get past what you’ve been told in school repeatedly.

I absolutely agree with Sir Ken that we better restructure our educational system.

I believe our educational system is set up to produce workers for the system, not entrepreneurs to expand our horizons.

Except for art class, there is little room found for creativity in our schools.

And most art teachers are looked upon as second class citizens by almost everyone.

Personally, I always thrived in a structured learning environment. I could get A’s and B’s without cracking a book no matter the subject.

I think it’s strictly a matter of good memory and knowing almost instinctively what a teacher would put on a test.

My daughter’s teachers have always said she writes better than almost all her peers. Yet she doesn’t think so.

So what’s the next step? How do we foster an environment

Perry Droast

… that teaches our kids the way they learn the best?

Sean

Perry, that’s an amazing question. Let me see if I can answer it.

And yes, I think you should get your kids to read this blog. 🙂

Lori

There are some things I catch on to easily. Others are hard for me to grasp, ie. I took French I & II, TWICE. I took Accounting I & II TWICE. I have a much better understanding of financials now, and I can follow bits and pieces of a few languages, because of the little foundation and practice I had. I agree, it may have been that I couldn’t learn by the METHODS that were taught, I might have learned better in other ways.

I recently took up poi spinning. I am enjoying the way it flexes my mind so that my body can free up to move in new ways.

Sean

Yes, boring teachers make for boring subjects. You can take the same syllabus, the same students, and yet one teacher can put you to zzzzzzzzzzzland. And the other can instill a system that’s magical. And enables you to learn.

This reminds me of a photography class I went to. We all had digital cameras, so we could all see the results instantly. And our issues could be fixed instantly. Instead we’d sit for three hours listening to her stories about her daughter in law. Or about the theory of photography.

And that’s why I don’t miss that stupid photography class 🙂

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