"Although we are used to believing that each of our senses perceives the world differently and discretely, they must, in fact, be coordinated for us to be able to think and act reasonably." (Root-Bernstein, 305)

This chapter talks about synesthesia, which can be called true (where it is inherited) or associated. We have all had experiences with associated synesthesia. For example, when you smell pumpkin pie or roasting turkey, a whole host of memories will likely come flooding back, perhaps reminding you of Thanksgiving with your parents or grandparents. The simple scent triggers a myriad of complex images that include all of the five senses.

This clip from the TV show Heroes, illustrates what synesthesia might look like. Emma is able to transform sounds into colors. People with synesthesia report seeing sounds as colors, or tasting food as a tactile sensation (like pointed or round) rather than as savory or sweet.



Many cultures include full sensory and spiritual stimulation as part of their ceremonies.
The authors highlight the synesthetic rituals of the Japenese Tea ceremony.
The true Japanese tea ceremony can take as much as three hours to complete. Each move is highly ritualized.



They also speak to the observations of Margaret Mead: "Rituals in Indonesia or Africa appeal "to all of the senses, just as also a meideval high mass involved all the senses through the eye and ear to the smell of incense, the kinaestheticism of genuflection and kneeling or swaying to the passing procession, to the cool touch of holy water on the forehead. For art to be Reality, the whole sensuous being must be caught up in the experience"" (p. 302). Native American ceremonies exhibit these same appeals.








Ceremonies start with the smudging of each tribal member with sage and sweetgrass (scent), engage them in symbolic dancing(kinesthetic) to the beat of the drum (aural) and celebrate with traditional foods(taste). There are recognitions of sacrifices, prayers and appreciations. These ceremonies are more than parties. They are living histories and connections to events current and past. Through these examples, one can clearly see that where there is deep meaning, there is synthesizing.

How do we bring this into our classes? The book suggests that we try to create "synthetic knowing--a combination of sensation, feeling, memory and rational thought" (p.306). They have defined these learning experiences as "synosia, derived from the Greek words syn (union), as in synthesis, the combining of ideas, and gnosis (knowledge) or noesis (exercise of reason or cognition). Put these together and the new compound, synosis, or synosia, sounds in English like its meaning: the union of different forms of knowledge, or synthetic knowing. But it is or more than that....synosia denotes the highest integration of multimodal feeling with multiple ways of knowing to create an ultimate form of understanding" (p. 307).

References:
Root-Bernstein, R. S., & Root-Bernstein, M. (1999). Sparks of genius: The thirteen thinking tools of the
world's most creative people
. Boston, Mass: Houghton Mifflin.