This is the abstract for a paper to be presented at the Future of Theory in Education Conference in Stirling, June 7-9 2012.

It explores some issues about the way learning and knowledge is based in 'rich synaesthesia' and cross-modal perception, patterns, and thought.


Roy Williams, University of Portsmouth, UK
Simone Gumtau, University of Portsmouth, UK
Jenny Mackness, Independent Education Consultant, UK

Theory and research on interactive media and learning has started to move away from cognitivism and the Cartesian separation of body and mind, to an embodied view of the world, and a view of perception and action as enactive-perception. This leads to an approach based on investigating all the senses together, the interaction between them and, increasingly, cross-modality rather than just multi-modality – in perception, action, interaction, and making sense of the world. In short: synaesthesic experience, learning and action. This paper outlines the key aspects of this emerging research field, and ways in which these theories and frameworks have been applied to learning and to learning design: for instance, Montessori mathematics, and interactive spaces for children on the autistic spectrum. This paper explores the way in which learning theory seems to be moving on from notions such as constructivist, contextual, inquiry- or problem-based, learner-centred, or multi-media learning, to a far more integrated notion of ‘whole body’ engagement in the world.

Keywords: synaesthesia, embodied learning, enactive perception, enactive meaning.