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The theory behind using ‘Fiddle’ items in training


Like many of you I'm sure, I have been providing a range of kinesthetic 'fiddle' items for delegates attending training courses for some time.  I understand that the theory is that when our fingertips are stimulated so are our braincells so fiddling helps to keep people alert.  Obviously as trainers we still need to engage learners in the topic and of course there in lies a whole different challenge.  My question is about the origins of this theory - is it true and can anyone point me in the right direction to find more information about it ?

3 Responses

  1. Origins of kinesthetic learning

    It stems from the NLP (neuro linguistic programming) side of things – which is controversial in it’s own right!

    The origins stem from Richard Bandler, in California University, who was transcribing taped therapy sessions offor the psychiatrist Robert Spitzer. (see wikipedia for more!).

  2. Fiddling to learn!


    Firstly, fiddling does not necessarily aid learning. Some claim that physical items or realia that you can handle may in certain circumstances aid memory. This has a certain common-sense plausability – if used well – but, like visual aids, this is not something that can be considered in isolation. The key theory behind it is Accelerated Learning, with the early work of Lozenov being an influence and perhaps more recently brain-based learning. The NLP connection, I think, is more tenuous in a mainstream training context, though objects can play a part in what is called anchoring, which you may want to check out.

    A word of caution, like any technique, if used badly, it can be counter-productive. Merely being given an item to fiddle with is as likely to stimulate the ‘what planet are they on’ brain cells as they are to keep people alert.


  3. A Practical Answer?

    I was told that providing things for delegates to fiddle with stopped the doodlers looking down at their picture so kept them, more actively involved. 

    I don’t use fiddle things myself due to a budget of nothing, but as a doodler myself always play with them if they are there.

    Sorry I couldn’t help further,


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