Charles Limb performs cochlear implantation, a surgery that treats hearing loss and can restore the ability to hear speech. But as a musician too, Limb thinks about what the implants lack: They don’t let you fully experience music yet. (There’s a hair-raising example.) At TEDMED, Limb reviews the state of the art and the way forward. (“About this talk” description at TED.com, http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_limb_building_the_musical_muscle.html)
At this point, I have watched Charles Limb’s talk multiple times. I am intrigued by it. For me, the talk elicits all kinds of excited thinking about possible projects of integrated studies. In my mind’s eye, I can see a team of student-learners, guided by a pair of co-teacher-learners, studying the intersection of music, physics, biology, robotic medicine, and beauty. Who knows, perhaps such a course would plant the seed that would grow into the physician-researcher who advances cochlear implants to the next level.
But, as regular readers here will surely anticipate, I am also touched by a more symbolic message inherent in Limb’s talk. I wonder: Are we working with students in our schools who have grown to be partially “deaf or blind” to the beauty around them? As young children – particularly around ages two to seven – people seem defined by their sense of wonder, exploration, and sense of searching and discovery. Often I worry that we dull those senses when we insist that children sit so long inside of school houses and study disjointed, disconnected facts.
How can we educators help to enhance the senses of our student learners? For that matter, how can we help to enhance the senses of all of the learners in a school house? How can we restore the ability to perceive beauty and inspire? Certainly, I think we do this for some students, but do we do this for all of the students in our care? Does school allow students to fully experience the wonder and beauty of their world? How can we ensure better that it does so? What would that school look like, smell like, taste like, and sound like? What an adventure!