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The traditional five senses and more

We often talk of having five senses as a universal truth. In reality, there may be more – or fewer, let's have a look!

Art by Meyoco; Source: Pinterest

Can you close your eyes and freely walk around your house? You might find that even if you have lived in your house for as long as you've been alive, it is still very difficult to move around efficiently. Today, most of us are very visual, and we may have to be reminded that we have other senses we can use to experience the world. Of course, there is sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. As much as we all love the gift of vision, it's limiting. When you see a bird's feathers, you experience them one way. When you touch those feathers, you understand them on a much deeper level. They have texture, shape, and rigidity for example.

Our senses are very easy to take for granted. The most interesting cases of how people use their senses actually come from those who didn't have all of them. Hellen Keller first realized that the feeling of running water in her hand could connect directly to the word water when, Anne Sullivan, her teacher speller out w-a-t-e-r into the palm of her hand.

Another curious case is of Ben Underwood, who developed a system of echolocation as he lost his eyes at the age of 3 to retinal cancer. Echolocation is how bats are able to 'see', they make sounds and judge where objects are based on how echoes come off of walls and surrounding objects. Fascinating, isn't it?

Well, there are many technical terms like equilibrioception (the sense of balance), thermoception (the sense of temperature), nociception (a sense that allows us to feel pain and many internal senses like interception, which are sensitive for things happening inside our body, like hunger. What's amazing is that Maria Montessori as an educator noticed the importance of these senses in learning. In her book The Montessori Method, she talks about her daily schedule for her students involving personal cleanliness, gymnastics, games, manual work, and caring for plants and animals. Montessori school alumni include Jeff Bezos (Amazon founder) and Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia founder).

I once came across a very funny story about how a man lost to someone half his size in an arm wrestle. What's funnier is the fact that they were both right-handed and arm-wrestled with left hands. So fun fact, you might think you can beat someone half your size but try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand first!

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