Do Italian kids learn faster than -- um, whatever ethnicity doesn't wave its hands much while talking? (Danes, maybe.) We don't know if anyone's ever tested that, but gesticulation seems to have its pluses, according to a new study in the journal Cognition. Conducted by University of Rochester scientists, it found that 3rd- and 4th-graders who were coached to wave at key pieces of information while learning algebraic concepts learned them significantly better than kids who just expressed the concepts verbally.
Amazingly better, in fact. When coached to use words alone, 33% of the kids still remembered the lesson when tested three weeks later. When using words as well as gestures, 90% of the kids still remembered the lesson. And then this: The same high percentage -- 90% -- recalled the lesson when using gestures alone, no speech. Lead author Susan Wagner Cook suggests in a press release that the hand-waving effect may have something to do with kids' need to directly experience concepts to best learn them.
So much for language. But then: We've all known moments when a simple, well-chosen hand gesture seems best for conveying a message. Usually in the car, though -- not the classroom.
-- Rosie MestelCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times