We just don’t seem to have the words to express the depth of understanding gained through touch.
Over the last few years that I’ve been observing Ian teaching anatomy lessons at Flinders it seems clear from the data we’ve collected -including video documentation, student questionnaires and interviews that hands provide a bridge between theory (written and spoken) and a spacial, structural and functional understanding of the body.
Currently we’re following a line of inquiry that focuses on the importance of touch and gesture in learning and communicating the complexities of human anatomy.
The starting point seems simple- I’ve begun to look for evidence of touch amongst the various forms of representation in this learning environment- direct points of human contact with the models.
The ridges around the ends of some of the long dry bones in the anatomy lab show signs wear- the femora and and the humeri, in particular. The internal filligree structures are revealed and the shafts are slightly burnished. These bones are constantly handled and highly valued by the students.
Rounded and ragged processes, areas of discoloration, chipped corners, smooth burnished areas, pencil marks, worn joints, frayed edges can reveal much about the student’s line of inquiry.