February 7, 2011

Another personal anecdote

On January 6th I gave a brief presentation -- "Global health, neglected diseases, and drug development" -- to students in Glacier Peak High School's biotechnology program. At the end of it I tacked on an a cappella rendition of a song about malaria written by my boss. A couple of weeks later I received a very nice thank-you card signed by 21 of the students. Although they only had space to write a sentence or two apiece, 14 of them mentioned the song!

Although we cannot conclude anything about my singing ability or the students' comprehension of the song lyrics, the song was obviously memorable. And if any of the students turn their attention to malaria again in the future, they may well recall the existence of this song, search for it on YouTube or my database, and perhaps digest the words and ponder their meaning. That's exactly the sort of informal learning that we want to encourage.

1 comment:

  1. Very fun! Songs stick in many people's mind with a positive association and most text books can't compete with that. The visual and auditory stimulation also help many people get things into their memory more easily.

    We recently watched a Nova about music's interaction with the brain. It featured Oliver Sachs. Brain scans showed that positive musical experiences interact with many areas of the brain -- integrating the various parts of the brain. Also many people who otherwise have little memory left, can remember many things and function better when music is brought into their lives.

    It is interesting to think that music associated with concepts might help many people remember and integrate information more easily. However, some people (as shown in the Nova program) cannot really hear music in the way you might expect. It can be a annoying noise. So that suggests that using music for teaching might not work for everyone.

    Maybe someday we'll have full programs designed to target students to their best learning behaviors: Music for those who like music, and acting for those who need movement, etc. Fun ideas to build on.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.