Recently, Science Daily reported on a University of Chicago study that suggests gesturing aids students in learning, not just recall. In the study, students were taught gestures at the same time the teacher presented new concepts in math. The results: “Students who repeated the correct gesture during the lesson solved more problems correctly than students who repeated the partially correct gesture, who, in turn, solved more problems correctly than students who repeated only the words” (ScienceDaily, 2009).
This study suggests that gestures are not only valuable for aiding recall of previously learned material, but also for constructing understanding of new concepts. Gestures aid learning!
What an awesome idea! The article explains that kids who learn gestures that go along with mathematical concepts then learn to frame their math problems in both word and gesture. You could add Dave Gray’s visual thinking to this and teach kids to frame math in word, gesture, and visualization, actually, and give them three dimensions.
Of course, this idea is thousands of years old. In India, they’re called mudras. They’re used in Indonesian dancing, and in Hawai’ian hulu, and Chinese qi gong, and … well, you get the idea. The whole concept is that a physical or kinesthetic gesture connects to a concept or core idea, and that core idea is related (often) to a breathwork pattern or tattvas — which is a visualization performed in one of the body’s energy centers called a chakra.
What is new, is apparently capable of being old again.