This page focuses on the course ES.S71 Increasing Your Physical Intelligence, Enhancing Your Social Smarts as it was taught by Noah Riskin in Spring 2014.
This course spotlights the importance of students’ bodily experiences and how they relate to students’ cognitive and social lives. The curriculum is activity-based and focuses on promoting bodily awareness.
Course Goals for Students
- To help cognitively gifted students transform their challenges into learning opportunities so that they can make meaningful, functional connections between their cognitive strengths and the physical and social dimensions of their lives.
- To help students develop the self-awareness and skills necessary for a more grounded and balanced MIT experience.
- To help students realize their potential so that their gifts have the best possible chance to shine, at MIT and beyond.
We need to think anew about the profundity of the fact that we’re physical beings in a physical world. As exquisitely attuned and highly evolved organisms, it is our physical and social interactions that form the basis of what we call 'mind.' And, students should have access to a targeted, educational opportunity to cultivate such 'root level' skills.
In the following pages, Noah Riskin describes various aspects of how he taught ES.S71 Increasing Your Physical Intelligence, Enhancing Your Social Smarts.
May not be used for GIR credit, but may be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.
Special Seminars in Interdisciplinary Studies are offered on a variable schedule.
The students' grades were based on the following activities:
34% Video Journal
Read more about the instructor's thoughts on assessment.
Breakdown by Year
Most of the students were undergraduates; one graduate student participated.
Breakdown by Major
Students came from a variety of departments.
Typical Student Background
All students enrolled in this course shared an interest in improving their social or physical awareness.
Ideal Class Size
A class size of 8-15 students is ideal. This size is small enough for students to develop trust with each other, while large enough to promote the formation of a dynamic group culture.
How Student Time Was Spent
During an average week, students were expected to spend 4 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
2 hours per week
- Met 2 times per week for 1 hour per session; 25 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
- The first 5-10 minutes of each session were spent doing warm-up exercises that focused on using the whole body.
- Next, the instructor typically introduced students to a focal topic (such as gravitation or proprioception) in a mini-seminar; these introductions included visual representations of the topic and discussion.
- After the introduction, students physically explored the focal topic through structured activities in the gym.
- The final 5-10 minutes of each session were used for cool-down exercises.
Open Gym Period
1 hour per week
- Met 1 time per week for 1 hour per session; 14 sessions total; optional attendance.
- Students used the open gym time to practice exercises learned in class and to receive individualized assistance from the instructor.
Out of Class