Education

Lending a Hand Makes Sense

By Stacey Decker — August 06, 2007 1 min read

According to a Washington Post article, research shows that educators who use hand gestures while teaching are more likely to convey their ideas to their students. And, students who make hand movements while thinking about new ideas have a better chance of retaining information. Researchers today are looking beyond the dated perception that the brain functions like a computer, and instead exploring the pathways that link the body and mind—and their findings are influencing education.

Neurologists have determined that the segment of the brain responsible for speech is engaged when people are gesturing. They have also found that the part of the brain that controls hand movements is often active while people are working through math problems—providing a scientific rationale for counting on your fingers. Researcher Susan Wagner Cook, who is also exploring the link between gestures and learning, has conducted a field study that supports the neurologists’ findings. Her students have successfully learned to balance equations by combining verbal cues with hand gestures.

The article includes a video of Cook demonstrating her method of teaching.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.