Pedagogy of the Senses

sensesNorm Friesen’s recent draft essay recalls Marshall Mcluhan’s pedagogical perspective based on the effects of media on the human senses. Mcluhan argued that the sensory impression of a medium (i.e that asociated with it’s production or output) does not necessarily equate to the sensory effect (or impact on the receiver). Radio, for example has an auditory impression, yet it’s effect – through the imaginative processing of the listener – is frequently visual. In other words, media affects senses other than those with which it communicates.

In fact, Mcluhan suggested any media affects all the senses to a degree, and that an individual’s ‘sensorium’ is ideally in a state of balance or equilibrium.  The media process is described as a ‘translation’ of the senses, which can distort this equilibrium or ratio of senses by amplifying some and attenuating others. These processes not only affect the aesthaetics of the media but potentially the consciousness and rationality of the receiver, leading Mcluhan to define pedagogy as a ‘training of senses.’

As our learning content and interactions become increasingly diverse and complex, how might this perspective affect our understanding of multimodality and cognitive overload?

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One Response to “Pedagogy of the Senses”

  1. Virginia Yonkers Says:

    I also wonder how senses can be retrained so those that rely on one sense can start using the other senses learning. I also wonder about some of the research being done on music and the brain. For example, my daughter and husband both hum (without even knowing it) when they are concentrating on work or a problem. It is almost as if the humming helps to focus their learning.

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