Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Learning by Examining One's Being

by Shelly Blake-Plock

Having lunch. Behind me sit a table of med students. They are studying for exams. And they are studying in some of the most interesting ways.

In trying to better understand how the passages in his head connect, one student laid down on the table and poured water down his nose. After nearly drowning, he discussed the experience with his friends.

Later the group took turns pulling on the beard of one of the males in the group trying to figure out why and exactly how it hurt when you pulled on a beard.

Right now, they are examining and trying to explain various splotches, marks, and bruises on their own bodies.

While I don't condone trying to drown yourself in the interest of understanding nasal anatomy, I do think what's going on here is interesting from a teaching and learning perspective. Would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I remember watching my mother and her nursing school classmates identifying the organs of a cat on the floor of our diningroom. I was seven and horrified. But I think that there are some real cues we can take from the sciences in regard to performance inquiry and assessment. Reasoning and critical thinking skills require hands-on experiences with indeterminate outcomes. This year I taught a lesson on spatial differences between maps and globes by having my students create a balloon globe. Outside of the names of some land and water features, the students were on their own in designing their globes. They had the best time and soaked up more content and honed more skills by working hands. The upshot of hands-on learning is the depth of new understanding students acquire. Two thumbs up for the beard pulling!

  2. Typically, as a child one regularly practices these types of behaviors. They are natural. The brain must figure out how things work and why. We typically lose this natural sense of self-discovery or curiosity as we age, which is unfortunate. These students seem entirely engaged with life! As an English teacher, teaching sensory description is the perfect situation in which I would begin to utilize this type of learning!

  3. You have to do to learn.

    I would bet a dollar that these students sat in a lecture hall to "get" the information initially. Then they were told to read 100 pages in a text book. Possibly the had a lab component where they actually did something. That is 1/3 of the learning where they actually did something.

    I also would have paid a dollar to see them doing all this. Kudos to them for really doing the learning.

  4. It is really interesting knowing how important it is for us all to know our selves. If we do not undertake self discovery , it is most likely , we would never make the most of our learning time.

  5. How about some training on how to study. Someone wants to read at night but has alway fallen at sleep . I thing can help


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