Which Came First Gestures or Speech, & Who Cares?
Which Came First, Speech or Gestures, And So What? Adults are learners too, so how do we get our point across (comprehension) without sounding like a dominating school teacher? If you visit your doctor and he says your x-rays are Benign, you are a lot happier than if he says the results are Malignant, right? Benign means Healthful, Good, Favorable or Friendly. Malignant, on the other hand, means Bad, Harmful, Diseased or Lethal. But you know that. What if your doctor says the results are Benign, and air-writes with his index finger the capital letter B plus the number Nine (B + 9), and smiles? Speech plus gestures places the experience in long-term memory and improves communication up to 3x. Whether you want to influence, persuade or convince a kid or adult, using gestures together with words (verbal representation) almost triples their learning function. Hunter-Gatherers Our ancient ancestors about 200,000 years ago broke away from chimps and apes by cooperating on the hunt and bringing home the bacon. They used their fingers, hands and facial expressions to become organized predators that could take down a Hairy Mammoth. Imagine one small Homo sapiens attacking an animal the size of our present-day elephant in Siberia, North America or Northern Europe. Our solo ancestor was not coming back from the hunt. Put a band of us with spears and communicating (before speech) with hand signals like pointing and waving, and we bring back meat for the entire tribe for a month. Later we used whistles, grunts and yells to surround the prey and snuff them. Still later, combining speech and gestures prevailed and we became King of the Savannah Rude Not To Point Whatever makes folks understand better and encode new knowledge for long-term memory, makes you a smarter communicator in your career and personal relationships. Our brains learn best from mental pictures. If you want comprehension of a new idea or plan, you require an image or mental movie. If you read or hear the word Cow, you brain produces a picture of one. If the concept or word is new to you, (say rejuvenate) your PFC (Prefrontal Cortex) must imagine a new image to link the idea to a picture or you do not understand or remember the concept. If you hear Rejuvenate it may mean nothing, but if you link a picture of a youngster to the verb, you got it locked because it means to be young. When you are referring to a person, location on a map or an object and use words alone, you are under performing. Use your index finder and point to the spot and say aloud There! Now you have made an emphatic statement. Dr. Spencer Kelly, Colgate University has published in Psychological Science, 2010, 01.05 an article called Speech And Gesture Mutually Interact to Enhance Comprehension. Examples Good speakers who want promotions in their career will consciously use hand gestures. It may be ludicrous, but pointing to your throat and making a gagging gesture conveys your opinion of your competitor better than verbalizing along the phrase, They do bad work. Which will be remember 12 months from now the words along or the gagging gesture plus the words? Chopping and washing are easy hand gestures. How about calling someone a Nose-Picker and pointing to your own nose. One that we use in speed reading is tracing in the air with your index finger underlining the words of a sentence on an imaginary page. The tracing is equal to the real experience of practicing. Very serious stuff: it involves Memory Neurons and Motor Neurons for improved learning and memory. Using your imagination is equal to practice, repetition and self-assessment. It produces mastery of a subject. Congruent Means Agreement When the spoken words and the gesture MATCH each other, comprehension is enhanced for students and adults. Your brain becomes integrated (unite, combine, merge), in Alignment (like a car) and Synchronized (in-sync). You are smarter. Who Cares Teachers, students, political speakers, TV advertisers, and executives who want to motivate, influence and persuade, right? What about your career? Sure. Remember the old commercial for the Yellow Pages let your fingers do the walking? Here we learn to let your HANDS do the talking. Math The University of Chicago and lead author Susan Goldin-Meadow produced research published 3.06.09 in the journal Psychological Science. The title is Gesturing Gives Children New Ideas About Mathematics. Kids were separated into three groups: first: taught the words, I want to make one side (of the equation) equal to the other. Second group: the same aforementioned words plus hand gesture of a V-shape with their fingers, point at the answer space (blank). The third group were taught the words, but focusing attention on the wrong set of numbers. It really is not complicated and the results were powerful. Use the correct gestures and link it with the right words and you win all the marbles by almost 3x. The gestures permitted the kids to extract correct knowledge from what they were taught. It was their own hand gestures that produced positive results, not the brilliance of the teacher. Coda: gesturing influences and expands learning and memory. We have recommended the use of gestures to executives in Fortune 100 companies. They now suggest it to all their people as a positive strategy. Endwords: If you could read and remember three (3) books, articles and reports in the time your peers can hardly finish one, would that be a competitive advantage to obtain promotions in your career? Ask for our free report on speed reading strategies to improve your personal productivity. Only do this if you are going to use your brain for the next ten-years. Move on it now or forget it. See ya, copyright 2010 H. Bernard Wechsler www.speedlearning.org firstname.lastname@example.org ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About the Author:
Author of Speed Reading For Professionals, published by Barron's.
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