Pay Attention to Your Clock

My most deeply ingrained memory of high school is staring at that old three-limbed clock on the wall, willing it with all my mental energy to advance deeper into the afternoon. According to a new study, there might have been some benefit to that behavior:

The present experiments show that the rotational direction of meaningless body movements and even passively perceived rotating objects substantially shape novelty orientation, with clockwise compared to counterclockwise rotation increasing preference and openness to novelty as well as exploration behavior.

On one hand, this type of meat-and-potatoes cognition research could never be the basis for actual education policy. On the other hand, is the current effort dedicated to making school aesthetics conducive to thinking greater than zero? Although the utility of presenting students with rotating objects may be debatable, there are some low hanging fruit when it comes to the design of learning environments. Brighter colors. Bigger windows. More student interaction. Is it so farfetched to think that making the aesthetics of school environments more conducive to thinking might help kids learn better? At this point it seems like it’s worth a shot.
Topolinski, S., & Sparenberg, P. (2011). Turning the Hands of Time: Clockwise Movements Increase Preference for Novelty Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI: 10.1177/1948550611419266


3 Responses to Pay Attention to Your Clock

  1. gillyc says:

    Which comes first? Does ‘clockwise’ prime for novelty-seeking because of its association with the future (which is unknown, open) rather than the past (know, fixed)?

  2. They could change the light bulbs and achieve instantaneous results: “Experiments at a primary school in a Dutch village showed that special light improved the concentration of Dutch school children. Children from group six and eight of the school had a 9 percent higher score on a concentration test almost immediately.

    One months after having worked with this new lighting system, called SchoolVision, the performance of the student showed little over 13 percent increase. After four months the increase was still present.”

  3. Considering the deep systemic problems that infest modern education, this seems a strange and fanciful idea. There are a great many other things that need to done, studied, researched and hopefully fixed before going in for body gyrations to stimulate creativity.

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