About Teaching Book Excerpt on Intuition

About Teaching Excerpt on Intuitive Approaches to Teaching

Antonio Damasio, Professor of Neurology at the University of Iowa, speaks of consciousness as feeling moments when we form images of something new in our minds and know wordlessly it has changed us. Nel Noddings speaks of intuition as a way of knowing, a process of creating pictures in our minds to come to understanding—a process that needs to permeate the entire learning act—from perceiving to conceiving to acting to integrating. Domasio’s perspective is that of a neurologist, Noddings’ is that of an educator with an abiding passion for enhancing the place of intuition as an essential educational concept. They both describe how we come to know.

Intueri: to look upon, to see within, to contemplate.

The act or faculty of knowing directly, without the use of rational processes.

• Intuition is deep knowing.

• It is the voice of our insight interacting with the world.

• It is tight, intense focus.

• Immediate and direct, an unconscious source of knowledge.

• It provides the foundation for experience.

• Educators, by and large, have left it out of the teaching enterprise.

IntuitionGraphicIn order to motivate students to attend to learning, we must make them come alive. We need to appeal to their senses, connect to their lives, involve them in wanting to learn the material. We need to engage them, create the clearings deep within that ignite their inner knowing, set up receiving climates so they can move through the learning process with their own motivation.

Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise

From outward things, whate’er you may believe

…and to know

Rather consists in opening out a way

Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,

Than in effecting entry for a light

Supposed to be without.

—Robert Browning

It is not enough to use the methods above to encourage the intuitive, without the search for meaning as the ultimate goal. The teacher’s task is to set up the climate, the situation, the parameters, the concrete experiences that will move students to a quest for their own meaning.

We cannot give meaning, it is for our students to create their own meaning. Perhaps in trying to give meaning, we actually destroy the intuitive mode, taking away the very mechanism for creating meaning in our desire to short-circuit the process for our students, an impossible task and a cruel attempt to rob them of their own experience.”9

In our attempts to pull students quickly into the content, we rob them of the chance to call upon their own experience. We need to set up the climate where personal valuing can flourish. As the value of the learning becomes theirs, they will merge the energy of their intuition with their reasoning power. Such synergy results in deep levels of comprehension.

Noddings speaks of the creative tension between subjective certainty and objective uncertainty–when you know something in your heart and mind, yet need to examine the issues and details more closely. You are sure, yet you stay open enough to see the issues from many sides. This is the act of living in the creative tension that Nodding is describing. She extols teachers to keep this tension active and exciting in the minds and hearts of their students.

If the intuitive mode ends successfully, skepticism with respect to the result of incipient product vanishes and only questions concerning execution remain.

If we doubt its capacities or mistrust its contributions, we make intuition, in effect, hesitant.

Its appearances will be erratic and its input ambiguous. On the other hand, acceptance and confidence create receptivity. If we issue an open invitation and make intuition feel that visits are welcomed at any time, it can become a perfect guest, showing up on all the right occasions, dressed properly and bearing felicitous gifts.

—Philip Goldberg

Intuitive People Tend to Be: 

  • unconventional and comfortable about being unconventional
  • confident
  • self-sufficient
  • emotionally involved in abstract issues, both intellectual issues and human values
  • able to entertain doubts and uncertainties without fear
  • willing to take criticism and challenge
  • able to accept or reject criticism, whichever the case
  • willing to change if they see the need
  • resistant to outside control
  • independent
  • foresighted
  • spontaneous

Encourage students to trust their intuitive sensibilities. Those who enjoy uncertainty and challenge usually give their intuition room to function freely. If they are able to blend their intuitive sense with their rational “check-it-out sense,” they have a duet of powerful skills for successful problem solving.