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“The importance of motion in the conceptualizations of physicists was described by Einstein in his so-called thought experiment, in which he imagines himself riding through space, astride a light wave, and looking behind him at the next wave.  In this way he constructed a visual-kinesthetic image of some principles of relativity.  Einstein liked to re-experience space the way children do, and from such a vantage point, examine physical phenomena by being, as he wrote, “sympathetically in touch with experience. (Notebooks of the Mind Explorations of Thinking,Vera John-Steiner, pg. 16)

For my educator friends Einstein’s experience illustrates a great way to help us understand how our visual and kinesthetic students function, think , and learn.  For the visual and kinesthetic learners we need to allow them to have these important types of experiences in our classes.  Through these experiences we may help foster the next Albert Einstein.

What a pleasure it would be to watch our students grow and blossom  through mindfulness exercises designed with their learning styles in mind. Another person that John-Steiner interviewed was unable to play sports due to an illness and so he had to listen to the games on the radio or watch them on TV.  As he thought about these youthful experiences he told her  “he was forced to play games vicariously, conscious of the various ways the athletes used their bodies.”  So regardless of whether we have the space, time, or right location to take our students physically through the experience we can help them imagine the physicality of the experience in their minds.

There is a simple Feldenkrais exercise that I use in my classes to demonstrate the power of the mind and its connection to the body. You may want to try it.  Have the students all stand up, lift their arms straight out to shoulder height, once they have done that have them drop their left arm to their side.  Next, have them turn their torso as far to the right as they can until they can see the wall or space behind them and point at a spot.  Once they have set the spot have them drop the arm, face forward, and just “imagine” themselves twisting and choosing a spot behind them.  Have them do this imaginary movement in their mind’s eye at least 10-12 times.  Finally, have them do it one last time for real.  Most of the students will see that the spot on the wall they had originally chosen has moved significantly and they could twist so much farther than before.  Wow!  They are amazed at the power of the mind over the body.

This gives you a great opportunity for a lively discussion on how that relationship affects–positively or negatively– their mental and physical states of mind.  What are they thinking about their achievements in a sport, art, music, dance,  or marshal arts?   Obesity is a huge problem in American, have they convinced themselves that they can’t walk, jog, swim, roller blade, or exercise?

How about being like Einstein and use these techniques to be a better mathematician, scientist, physicists, or botanist!  The skies the limit when you put your visual and kinesthetic energy into using this mindfulness technique and allow yourself to ride through space with Einstein.  Oh, the places you can go!

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