Monday, April 30, 2012

Moving a little in order to listen

Some people learn better kinesthetically, moving slightly as they listen. I often build in movement to stories for young children who learn through their bodies. If kids aren't bothering anybody else, I don't mind if they are fidgeting or drawing or rocking. It would be great if we could let kids listen however they are most comfortable, from lying down to sitting to kneeling to wandering. I recently heard at a lecture on brain science that the best posture for learning is with the hips at about 135 degrees--slouching back. I ask kids to sit "criss-cross applesauce" (cross-legged) so everybody can see, even though I find that pose uncomfortable myself.

I understand kinesthetic learning on a personal level. When I'm listening to a keynote speech, if I'm not moving slightly, I space out in classic girl ADD behavior. If the images are strong enough, if it's a well-told story, I stay with it. If not, I go into deep daydreaming.

When I was in graduate school, I took notes and doodled, which always helps me focus. Partway through the year, I bought a small sewing kit, tiny scissors included. I began cutting small paper dolls, though not during class. There's something satisfying for me about tiny figures. 

Eventually I found folding scissors at the grocery store. I've carried a pair of these since 1986. The blades are small enough that I can even carry them on an airplane.

The very first paper dolls I cut were the flame-head dancers (see yellow figures below). Then I branched out. When I cut hands, the pinky fingers are always a little crooked. Now when I go to storytelling conferences, this is what I do during keynote speeches so I can listen. I give the cutouts away because there are always more in my scissors. Many storytellers put them in their nametag holders.

I don't follow a pattern. I just look at a one-inch square of folded paper (like an accordion), and cut, leaving a little bit attached on either side. The conference program book is usually pretty good material, with nice colors. Occasionally I'll take notes if I hear something insightful.

Randel McGee is another storyteller who makes cutouts, but his are quite different, beautifully done in the style of Hans Christian Andersen. I don't know if he does this in order to listen, though I know he does paper cutting as part of some of his shows.

1 comment:

Randel McGee said...

I cut illustrations from paper as I tell my H.C. Andersen stories because that is what Andersen himself did as he told stories.
When people ask me how I can cut and tell at the same time or how I can perform as a ventriloquist and keep the story going with multiple voices and characters, I slyly say, "ADD does have its advantages!" ;o) apparently Andersen also had ADD.
Thanks for mentioning me!