Thinking With Your Hands: The Surprising Science Behind How Gestures Shape Our Minds, by Susan Goldin-Meadow
c.2023, Basic Books. $30.00. 272 pages
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Admit it: You can barely read those four words if you don’t want to use your hands. Point, twist, lift and lower, and you might even give directions on the phone with your hands. Most of the time, your gestures emphasize your words, most of the time, people understand you, but what are you not saying out loud? You’ll see just that in Susan Goldin-Meadow’s new book, Thinking With Your Hands.
Ask anyone to describe the process of opening a jar of pickles, and even if you can’t hear them, you can still get the gist of their movements. But that person is describing the process by saying it out loud – so why are they gesturing?
In general, it’s no surprise that we use gestures to do a lot of things: for mutual understanding, to help us remember and maintain our train of thought, and to hold the attention of our audience. If you’re smart, you can also tell when someone is misleading or lying, even if they’re not consciously doing so, Goldin-Meadow said. “Reading” someone’s hand can help read their mind.
This is important information for parents, she said.
As a researcher, Golding-Meadow learned that deaf children who are either too young to learn ASL or have not learned ASL for other reasons communicate using gestures. She finds that using “gestures” is intuitive and is used all over the world to communicate with others. Even blind people use gestures when they speak.
Children should be encouraged to use gestures to solve problems, tell stories, and communicate without words. When used correctly, gestures can expand a child’s vocabulary and can affect the meaning of words. Gestures can alert attentive parents to language delays or other cognitive problems, and can let parents know when a child is having trouble with a particular idea or topic. In these ways, Goldin Meadow warns parents of one thing: Make sure your gestures are closely aligned with your thoughts. your child is watching…
When you browse Thinking With Your Hands, the first thing you’ll notice is that it’s very scientific. Clinical, almost. This is a serious book.
The second thing you’ll notice is that you’re quickly drawn into it.
Author Susan Goldin-Meadow uses laboratory evidence to back up her research and charts to make things easier to grasp. This helps to reduce the clinical aspect of her book and make it more accessible, which is a good thing: for supervisors, parents, and especially those who work with young children, there is a lot to be learned before the content is immediately usable. Many books need to be expanded. Parts, and any help you can get, will stop you from putting this book aside.
If you can hold back, you’ll find that this book enhances your communications with other adults (strangers, acquaintances, friends, or family), and it will enhance your conversations with your child, even if he or she is fully expressive. clear. Keep in mind that Thinking With Your Hands is pretty disciplined, but if you need to say something important, it’s a big book.