We also discussed how smell contributes to taste. Here’s a quick little demo you can try on Thanksgiving. Bring jelly beans for everyone. Have everyone put a few in hand. While plugging their nostrils, your guests should surreptitiously place a jelly bean in their mouths and try to guess the flavor. Then, after three or four chews, have them unplug for an explosion of taste. I suggested that we begin to eat all our meals like this!
Turns out that women are able to detect smells better than males and that many more males suffer from color-blindness, which helps to explain more than a few marital spats. I love the scene from Lost in Translation, when Bill Murray rips open a package from his wife, and all these carpet samples fall out, representing their staid marriage. He doesn’t care about carpet samples. Could be that he simply can’t see much difference between one sample and another. Husbands, of course, need to pretend that they see the difference—and to care about that difference.
We studied kinesthesia, our sense of body position, which doesn’t get much press and which surprises me. Proprioceptors in our joints, muscles, and skin tell us if we’re sitting or walking or gripping someone’s hand too tightly. Whenever you’re trying to carry several items to the car, you should be amazed anew by your keen sense of kinesthesia, by the fact that you don’t crumple the coffee cup or smash the cookie. We ran through a number of fun demonstrations to illustrate. Here’s a classic one you can try for yourself. If you had a childhood, you’ve probably already done this. Stand in a tight doorway. Push your arms against the jams as hard as you can for about 30 seconds. Move away from the door and allow your jelly arms to float up by themselves, which shows how your sense of kinesthesia is temporarily disrupted.
And...we had another late start for teacher meetings that involved several acronyms, always a bad sign. There are good young people out there who are veering away from teaching because of all this acronym business, the top-down policies that force teachers to create data, devised by non-classroom folks who are more interested in numbers than in the messy process of genuine learning. No matter how hard one tries, there ain’t an acronym for the upheaval that is learning, which doesn't always have to be measured.