Now comes this neat little study of body awareness in elephants: Elephants know when their bodies are obstacles to success in a novel transfer task by Dale and Plotnik of University of Cambridge, summarized by NeuroScience News. Basically, they demonstrated that elephants are very much tuned into the impact that their bodies have on their immediate environment. In the study, subjects were posed with a problem such that they could not pass on a baton with a cord attached to the mat they were standing on--without getting off the mat first.
To the apparent surprise of the researchers, that was a piece of cake for the elephants.
Body awareness is getting more attention lately, for example in discussions of body image by scholars and "body shaming", even at #Starbucks . . .
That almost certainly means the integration of "full body" methodology in computer-mediated or virtual reality environments. The technology is available to do that now, used primarily at this point in gaming, rehabilitation and the military.
So what do we mean by "the body"? Essentially, what is termed "embodied cognition", meaning that is based in some condition or movement of our physical experience. It can be gesture, posture or "regular" motion or movement in learning, but it can also relate to anything about the physical environment of the classroom, or the genders, identities or perceived body images of participants.
50 years ahead of his time, Arthur Lessac put it so well in 1967: Train the body first! Join us in Chicago (hopefully) next spring in passing on that baton! Something noBODY should miss!
Citation: University of Cambridge “Elephant’s “Body Awareness” Adds to Increasing Evidence of Their Intelligence.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 12 April 2017.