This is part of an ongoing series on the fundamental rules or “patterns” of accelerated learning. Each rule is very contextual; these are not silver bullets or cure-alls.
Rule #12: GESTURE
When you are communicating with participants in a learning environment…
Speech, completely by itself, is a very limited way to communicate, and often causes misunderstandings.
- Non-verbal communication comprises a substantial portion of an overall message; research has found it trumps speech through phenomena like the McGurk effect, and when it comes to communicating things like emotional states.
- Speech only accommodates a single learning modality.
- Gesture is the first and most accessible human language, both in terms of evolution, and in terms of a single human life-span.
- Noisy environments can render speech communication impossible.
- A need for silence to perform certain skills can render speech inaccessible.
- A need to avoid interrupting another speaker can render speech unusable.
- Deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, adults, and elders are marginalized by the emphasis on speech, and the lack of fluent signers, in mainstream society.
- Adults who culturally identify as Deaf have a rich store of fluid, expressive mime and signs, and are great role-models for those wanting to use non-verbal communication more effectively.
- Gesture can easily connote play, and add fun to communication, making it more ALIVE.
- Gesture can boost SIGNAL STRENGTH to any other form of communication.
- Gesture is “sticky”; it’s easy to recall via muscle memory.
- Gesture/sign language is the only language that can commonly be used simultaneously with a spoken language.
- Create a sign along with a name when CONTRACTING a new rule of play.
- Learn some sign language; consider even becoming fluent in your local signed language (or multiple signed languages!)
- In any verbal communication, use signs and body language to increase the SIGNAL STRENGTH.