Laurel vs Yanny: An Educational Metaphor We All Need To Hear

Laurel?

Yanny?

Are you caught up in the new “Is it This or Is it That?” debate of 2018 yet? If not, someone played a computer saying the word “Laurel” with regard to the wreath of leaves worn on the head and heard the sound “Yanny” when they did. So, the new version of :is the dress black and white or blue and brown?” came on the scene in the inter-world.

Here, you judge for yourself.

So, if you’re wondering what it really is, the answer is Laurel. That’s not me being a jerk about it and forcing my opinion out there, but it actually is Laurel. Here’s a quick video on why, including the science of sound. 

 

Now, here’s what’s really important…that educational metaphor I mentioned in the title of the post. 

As teachers, we have an obligation to our students that is much bigger than our requirement to “Teach Content” to them. We have an obligation to listen to our students. When we listen to them, we’re assessing them. We’re assessing what they know and don’t know, how they feel about what they know and don’t know, if they can explain what they know and don’t know, and if they need us to teach or listen more.

But…

What if they’re telling us “laurel” and we’re hearing “yanny” instead?

What if we’re convinced that what they’re trying to explain, question, or share is wrong when it actually right and we’re perceiving it incorrectly because of our priming, or our training, or our temporary distractions, or…more interestingly…their pitch and tone of voice and our ability to hear it? What does that mean for how we teach and assess our students?

Now, go back to the original sound clip and listen again, knowing that BOTH words are actually in there and try, really try to hear both, simultaneously, the same way we can hear harmony in music.  If you can hear both, awesome. If you can’t, keep trying. It’s our obligation to our students to hear BOTH what they are actually saying, and what we think they are saying and to meld them together into an opportunity that truly overlaps teaching and learning.

 

And, just for fun, here are a few lesson ideas people have thrown out there to me on twitter so you can #MakeItReal while the debate is still relevant!

Create a debate over which is correct and have students cite evidence for their standpoint.

Use the Virtual Oscilloscope online to record your voice saying Laurel and Yanny, then screenshot it and compare graphs!

Do a statistical observational study (survey) stratified by age, sex, known musical ability and primed introduction (say laurel or yanny first) and present the findings.

Use the New York Times sound slider to identify when the sounds change for you.

Study how sound has been used in the past as a means of confusion, argument, and deterrent (this one’s fun. Back in 2008 a high pitched sound was played outside stores to drive away loitering kids because adults couldn’t hear it!)

Share your ideas and lessons with me at the #MakeItReal Hashtag on twitter!!!

Remember to use the #MakeItReal Hashtag for sharing ideas!

Connect with Denis Sheeran at Denissheeran.com

Twitter: @MathDenisNJ and

#MakeItReal Chat Every Wednesday 9:30 pm EST for 30 Minutes.

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