Rules of Accelerated Learning, #12: Gesture

Red Deer image gesture accelerated learning

There is no doubt in your mind this deer is listening to you; and yet it hasn't told you anything. (image CC dodsport)

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.
Therefore, in any communication, use GESTURE to increase SIGNAL STRENGTH.
  • 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.
New learners can often be shocked that signed languages, just like spoken languages, are complex and require lots of engagement and practice to master. They are not “dumbed-down” versions of “actual” language. However, through the rules of accelerated learning, they can be quickly and easily acquired (just like spoken language.) Some cultures, for example Americans, have a very flat “affect” in communication, known by the Deaf as “paper face”. Members of these cultures need more training than others to increase their level of expressiveness. But even for expressive people, its possible to increase SIGNAL STRENGTH even more, according to the rule OVER-DO IT.

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