And Now for Something Completely Cool at School

26 05 2009

. . .sensory stimulation!

It’s one of a handful of similar rooms in South Florida that stem in part from a 1970s Dutch philosophy known as Snoezelen (pronounced snooze-a-lun), which says surroundings can have a meaningful impact on behavior — like reducing stress and improving communication. . .

No kidding! This applies to everyone imo — isn’t this what environmental systems theory is all about? — and I’ve learned both from pleasure and pain, that it’s very important to me personally. Teresa Heinz Kerry knows how important surroundings are to the health of all women and children worldwide (not just in schools):

“Children live what they learn and learn what they live. We have to model the behaviors we want them to embrace, and that includes taking responsibility for our surroundings and caring for our bodies, earth around us, and all creation.

First of all, we can change the status quo if we do simple things together . . .”

And thinking about this, I remembered the Hawthorne Effect discovered in office settings, that found it’s not so much what you change in the surroundings but merely creating the perception that someone cares enough to try to improve the surroundings, that causes meaningful impact for those acting in the environment. It’s similar to other placebo/ expectancy effects.

This idea suggests to me that humans of any age or condition could benefit from emphasizing and enhancing various sensory delights in schools and other public places; at the least it would reflect recognition that our senses and surroundings matter, and signal a healthy positive respect for that importance, and efforts to meet that need. Think about it — it’s literally the complete opposite of sensory deprivation as a teaching/control/management strategy and certainly “better” than inflicting pain and punishment on the senses.

Anecdotal evidence touts the success of sensory-stimulation rooms, but research on them is fairly recent.

Still, the rooms have been popping up the past few years across the country — including Atlanta, New Orleans and San Diego — even if they are just for recreation.



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