Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Tactile Learning

Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:31 am

There is some learning that is entirely by touch. This last month, I learned this first hand. About a month ago, I spilled soap onto the counter in the women’s bathroom. I reached over and my thumb barely hit the button and my hand was in the wrong position to catch it, so the soap hit the counter in a messy glob.

Before you start scolding me, I assure you that I cleaned it up. There are only three women working in my office. It’s not like I could tell Prim that Oksana did it. They would know that it was me who made the mess, so I cleaned up after myself. That’s all beside the point, anyway.

The point is: there is some learning that is entirely tactile. Unbeknownst to me, the old soap dispenser was removed from the wall and a new one was put in its place. There is a mark on the wall where the old one used to be. The paint is a different color and a bit of the wall came off with the old dispenser, leaving the brown paper from the drywall. Well, because the new one is shaped differently, it isn’t exactly in the place of the old one. It’s ever so slightly higher and it is slimmer in form. Thus, my thumb almost missed the button and my hand wasn’t correctly placed to catch the soap.

I didn’t know that I knew where the soap dispenser was solely by touch. I never go “feeling around” for the soap. I just put my hand there and caught it every time. There must have been a time when I was a new employee and I didn’t know where the soap was and had to “look” for it, but that time was long ago. Now, my hand reaches for it and I don’t even notice when the dispenser changes unless it is so drastic that I end up missing the globule. I believe that they could put a huge sign on the dispenser saying, “Do Not Use! Acid!” and I would still unconsciously squirt the acid into my hand. No matter how large or red the letters were, I wouldn’t see them because I get my soap with my sense of touch instead of sight.

It’s a month later. I use the women’s room without any soap mishaps. Just the other day, I noticed that my hand reached to the exactly correct spot to dispense the soap and I caught it without spilling a drop. I guess it takes about a month to learn something by touch. I didn’t even know I could learn things that way. How long until I know everything about myself? Will I ever?


1 Comment »

  1. I loved your article! I work for a company that specialises in cartering to different learning styles: Creativ eLearning Styles on http://www.creativelearningcentre.com. We differentiate between visual, tactile, audotory and kinesthetic learning styles, and I can tell you how true your observation is: some things we only know by touch. I remember when I was a child and could do the Rubik cube… well, it was my fingers that knew what to do, not my logical brain!

    Comment by Yvonne Eve Walus — 4/5/2006 @ 7:10 pm

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