Insights With Dr. Niamh Clune: The Gestalt of Learning!
I am about to give a presentation for Babcock International to Surrey school teachers on Science Through Literacy. These days, the aim of education is to speak across curricula, and this is something that fills me with passion. We all learn differently. And although I am not a scientist ~ rather an educational psychotherapist specialising in learning through the imagination, my knowing is science-filled, as in any serious research, Epistemology and Methodology (two glorious words) share the love.
Every subject, including poetry, contains a large dollop of science. Science doesn’t have to be dry. It is an amazing, ubiquitous subject, mystery-filled with eureka moments ~ after all, when man goes out into the universe, he finds himself. More and more, the schism between Science and God is becoming less, as even Science uses colourful metaphor to describe the ‘Things of God’ that cannot be known in any other way ~ such as Physics’ recent discovery of the ‘God Particle.’
For-the-most part, life (and discovery) is littered with mini eurekalets. None-the-less, these tiny moments are the heuristically significant fruit of intuitive flashes and inspiration. Seemingly, out-of-the-blue insights come from nowhere. We encounter Direct Knowing and are connected to something greater than the parts/individuals that make up the whole. This is the Holy Ghost ~ and we have found no better metaphor!
The way in which I will approach my humble talk is through rhythm, rhyme and story. I believe it possible to teach or learn most things through poetry and story. Scientific language leaves most people cold ~ it’s hard, impersonal, unrhythmical, yet, if Science can draw on the beauty of language, metaphor, and poem, and weave story and personification into the driest of jargonese or technical usage, even the most difficult of words reveal their souls. And children’s imaginations will spark, kindle and fire. Inner vision and thought-streaming will fuel a budding passion for learning and discovery ~ .
I will be talking about the Gestalt of learning. Gestalt is a difficult word to understand, yet if we roll it around our tongues and savour the flavour, we make friends and begin to unravel its mystery. I wrote a poem to describe its meaning, as my talk about crossing curricula centres around how we all learn differently ~ such as through Feeling, Sensation,Thinking and Intuition…In understanding and incorporating the parts, we enhance the experience of the whole ~ which is the Gestalt of learning.
Gestalt is Psychology,
And it can be Therapy.
Entering inside the part
Is the Science and the Art.
Making whole the learning ring,
From the parts a greater thing.
Whole the pattern, whole the form,
Shifting vision will transform
Problems, into something new ~
Broaden, deepen learning’s view.
When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down.
One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.”
Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!”
I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I?
I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.”
Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray.
With love from Dr. Niamh,
Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books. www.drniamhchildrensbooks.com