Saturday, 1 December 2012

How Much Learning Is Verbal?

I made two videos today, but one of them was so annoying to edit that i haven't bothered to upload it (it was about anatomical terms such as "superior", "inferior" and the like).  Here's the other one:

This is about joint movements and the names for them.  So far there are only two of them, but it's in the same series as this one:

 (which is about lung volumes)
These are human biology/anatomy/physiology/medicine/whatever videos whose aim is purely educational and not particularly inspiring.  However, the joint one does raise an interesting (for me) issue:  how much learning is linguistic?  How much learning just involves finding out what people call things so you can talk about them?

In some ways, i feel this kind of learning is less legitimate than more practical acquisition of skills.  It's a bit like ornithological "twitching" (no offence to any twitchers in case i've got that wrong) or happening to know the Latin names for herbs without knowing anything about the ecology, biology, life cycle, constituents, cultural significance, real botany or uses of the plants concerned.  It seems empty and anal to me.  However, it's true that it acts as a stepping stone to learning, albeit mainly book learning, and it can draw an outline around something considered significant by some and as such may show something new about the Manifold - the blizzard of sensory impressions we call "the world".  There are other kinds of learning though - emotional intelligence, acting, empathy, woodwork, playing musical instruments, finding your way around...

I suppose i wonder the following:

  • How much learning is linguistic?
  • What would be left if you took away the verbal stuff?
  • Is it overvalued in our society?
  • How can we tell if it's real (or does it make it real)?