Thursday 2 July 2015

Moving, Thinking and Learning

Rodin's thinker sits with his head bowed, chin resting on his clenched fist. This is the classic static thinking pose. But other poses are also available: for example, lying on the grass and looking up at the sky can work quite well. So can going out for a walk – alone or with someone to help you think things through. Some famous thinkers (Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens, for example) have done their best thinking while walking. Other people find it easier to think if they have something in their hands – pen and paper for writing or sketching, or play objects, or models. Some people find that performing an activity needing little mental effort somehow enhances their conscious thinking: Sherlock Holmes famously played his violin to help him solve crimes. In Minority Report or Silent Witness you see investigators moving objects around on a screen: by physically rearranging the data they discover new patterns and possibilities that can create breakthroughs in thinking. Perhaps real world example are more convincing? Such as Google's playrooms that encourage movement and playing with objects in order help employees find the next breakthrough. And the same is true for young children the world over: our most rapid period of learning involves exploratory movement and manipulation of objects. Movement and thinking are great playmates at all ages.

So when you want people to think deeply about past, present or future, consider using physical movement and physical objects to help them think more deeply or creatively.

You will find more on this subject in How movement can help thinking and learning in the Guide to Active Reviewing


  1. Hi! "Rodin's thinker sits with his head bowed, forehead resting on his clenched fist." that line doesn`t quite match to the picture. :)

    1. Thank you Eblis for pointing out this error, which I have since corrected (by replacing "forehead" with "chin"). I think that all kinds of static poses can be helpful for thinking (in yoga for example) and finding a good place and "pose" for thinking could be worth exploring too. But the main focus of this brief thought was the value of suitable kinds of movement. But attention to detail does matter - it can make the difference between supporting or interfering with thinking. Thank you for pointing out this mistake.