Using Touch for Vision
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Were you ever told 'Don't trace with your finger', when you were learning to read?
In fact it's quite natural for a young child to want to make the abstract experience of reading a little more tangible and physical, by touching the paper, and giving to the eyes and mind the anchoring reassurance of their own finger and hand.
In the Bates method we reawaken this process, by teaching tracing and sketching, using an imaginary 'nose-pencil', or long brush; or perhaps physically touching the objects that are being observed. To bring the sense of touch to bear on the point and the context is a training for the mind which the eyes love.
Perhaps also, one of our most accepted unwritten 'laws' of modern society "don't touch", places a subliminal burden on the burgeoning learning process for the young child, which is then brought through to adulthood. This instruction is applied liberally and often with some force, where there is anything precious or deemed unsuitable for direct contact. The complexity of our world beckons.
So imagine you can put aside any restriction for a moment, and look at the photo above. Imagine touching the branches, and tracing along their lines. Really connect in your thoughts with the texture and feel, the shapes and bumps. As you do so, follow the lines with your eyes.
It can be very helpful to refresh your memory of what a tree actually feels like - or whatever object you're using - just go and touch a real one!
You can see a larger version of this image here: open image.
Just as Montessori has found that impressions gained through the sense of touch are very useful in teaching children to read and write, persons with defective sight have found them useful in educating their memory and imagination.