Reading and Writing and Dancing as Long as the Music Plays

The Elleminnow Pea Effect

I haven’t felt inspired to do much blogging lately, but it seems my daughter, a “new” teacher, is feeling led to take up the mantle in my hiatus. I asked her if I could share this one with my readers since she doesn’t have her own active blog yet. I think you’ll enjoy its message.


Bless us, O Lord,
And these Thy gifts
Which we are about to receive
From Thy bounty
Through Christ, Our Lord

is how the blessing is supposed to go.

All his life, Mike has been saying

Bless us, O Lord,
And these Thy guests
Which are about to receive Thy bounty…

Only when we began saying it together and realized that we were each saying something different, did he notice his error. Not being raised Catholic, I had to steal glances at the cross-stitched plaque in his mother’s kitchen and follow along during family blessings. He was just repeating what he had heard all his life. At that time, I could not convince him that he was saying the wrong words.

During the next family blessing at his mother’s, he followed along with the plaque, too. After it was over, he sighed, “Well, I’ll be damned.” He’d been saying it wrong his whole life. His whole life.

It is amazing how we hear what we expect to hear. For years, when I sang the alphabet song, I didn’t hear L, M, N, O, P. I heard Elleminnow Pea, like it was some special kind of pea. I knew the alphabet, but when singing the song, it became something else in my brain. It makes me wonder what else I’ve missed during my life, without even realizing it.

I recall experiments discussed in my Psychology classes where subjects’ noses were plugged so they could not smell, and then they were blindfolded and handed a round object to eat. Without their sense of sight and smell, they could not tell if they were eating an apple or an onion. They essentially lost their ability to taste.

What I am calling the Elleminnow Pea Effect is the absorption of knowledge through a single sense, or a limited number of senses. Our senses were designed to work together to help us learn about the world. When we use only hearing, only vision, only smell, only taste or only touch to experience the world, we lose vital pieces of information that help us interpret what we experience. This effect is magnified if the sense we are using happens to be faulty.

That is why it is critical for us to use as many of our senses as possible when learning, and it is essential for young children to do so. Young children were not designed to experience the world through hearing and vision only. They should be tasting, touching, and smelling as well, and moving while they do it. To deny them this opportunity is to create thousands of tiny gaps in their knowledge, thousands of missed connections. These missed connections then show up later as reading problems, writing problems, math problems, and I suspect, ADD and ADHD.

These are just my musings. I have no scientific proof of the Elleminnow Pea Effect. But there is researched-based support for multi-sensory learning, and it needs to be brought into our schools NOW.


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One thought on “The Elleminnow Pea Effect

  1. Donna Hadsell on said:

    You are absolutely right! Are you familiar with Whole Brain teaching? It mainly used body movements and oral repetition to make the things students learn stick in their brains better. If you add in the senses of smell and taste, just imagine the possibilities!

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