It is a busy time of the year for many academics here in the UK. We are busy marking a huge number of scripts and research projects. I now used speech recognition software and it makes my life much easier. As I read through the document I can simply speak about what I am reading and what I see. It is so easy to get very specific information about basic errors such as punctuation and the layout of references. I have found that I could do my marking in half the time and yet give the students twice as much feedback. This is a ‘factor 4′ difference!
I have also been reading about the human senses over the last few years. I’m intrigued by the fact that so many of our emotions are described in on sensorial language. This makes sense:I have long argued that sensory intelligence is more important than emotional intelligence. Although I have produced an audioo book on sensory intelligence I am always looking for a publisher who would help me publish a general book for the public on sensory intelligence! With a greater awareness of the sensory data coming into our bodies we are more likely to be able to understand our emotional responses. The emotional responses are often swift and unpredictable and difficult to regulate. Emotions of course are our reactions in the brain played out in the theatre of the body. Using hypnosis people have shown that it is impossible to have an emotion in our minds without a corresponding bodily state. A rather simple example is when we look up to the blue sky and beautiful day and try to feel sad, or if we clench our fists and purse our lips and then try and feel happy! It is also interesting that emotions are described as feelings: to feel is of course to touch. Here are some examples of sensory metaphors: I am touched by your concern, I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings, I felt sad, you’re so prickly at times, that really moved me, she is such a warm person, he can be a bit cold at times.
On the subject of touch it is fascinating that the very fastest braille readers can read 200 words a minute thanks to the mechanosensors in the fingertips. It is ironic that the inventor of braille was a young boy who was blinded at three years old because he was playing with a leather punch in his father’s workshop. He tried to get a close-up view as he punched a hole through a scrap of leather but the instrument skidded across the leather and stabbed him in the eye. Because of infection the boy lost both eyes and became blind. He was so frustrated with the very slow method of reading at that time using copper wire on paper to create individual letters. Eventually later in life the boy used punch mechanism similar to the one that blinded him to create raised dots to produce a code for each letter of the alphabet. In essence braille uses a compact two by three row grid of raised dots.
We have the longest childhood of any animal and touch is not an option for our young ones. Touch is highly developed in the human species and indeed it is touch that may have been central to our evolutionary advancement. If childhood is not filled with loving touch the consequences are serious.