Re-enforcing Muscle Memory - Call and Point Safety Check

An odd bit of trivia, and I'm not sure where to put it. Critical Thinking seems most appropriate. Maybe. We are so set on book and classroom training for workers, but this whole-body approach would seem useful in a setting where formal education is hit-or-miss and book-learning is not wide-spread. It might even be useful with workers who are mentally challenged.

It might be an interesting tidbit in a post-industrial story. Anyway, it's here. Think about it.

Why Japan’s Rail Workers Can’t Stop Pointing at Things - A seemingly silly gesture is done for the sake of safety.

"Train conductors, drivers and station staff play an important role in the safe and efficient operation of the lines; a key aspect of which is the variety of physical gestures and vocal calls that they perform while undertaking their duties. While these might strike visitors as silly, the movements and shouts are a Japanese-innovated industrial safety method known as pointing-and-calling; a system that reduces workplace errors by up to 85 percent.

Known in Japanese as shisa kanko, pointing-and-calling works on the principle of associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations to prevent errors by “raising the consciousness levels of workers”—according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, Japan. Rather than rely on a worker’s eyes or habit alone, each step in a given task is reinforced physically and audibly to ensure the step is both complete and accurate."

Reminds me of how hospitals borrowed the pre-flight checklist method from the airlines. Simple and effective.

David Trammel's picture

Hawaiian Shamanism teaches that memory is stored in the muscles when the information was learned. If you have trouble remembering something, the muscle that holds that memory may be tense. Consciously relaxing your body can often free up the information.

We will talk alot about ways to train your body to do your thinking for you as we learn Green Wizardry

ClareBroommaker's picture

I tutor kids and have had two of them who had significant difficulty memorizing their multiplication facts. For one of them, there was also lack of understanding of what multiplication even means. But their parents were really concerned that their schools were moving on without them and that they should do the memorization regardless of understanding! For both students, the "sevens" were the biggest challenge. For kid #1, I wrote the facts on a large ball. We made a game that involved answering or asking the multiplication fact after catching and before throwing the ball. When kid #1 had mastered the "sevens", she told me things like, "7 X 3 = 21 is right _here," as she demonstrated a hard pass of the ball with two hands from waist level. Then, "7 X 7 = 49 is right here," as she showed bouncing the ball a single time on its way to the catcher. So that may be some sort of muscle memory for math.

Kid #2 is learning her sevens right now. We're doing the ball thing, too, but she's kind of uncoordinated and that can add another level of frustration if we keep at it for too long. Yet she also really needs some physical activity. So for her, we imagine the answers for each multiplication equation are in various spots in the big room we work in, so she runs to that spot to go fetch them (in imagination). The moments of activity also give cover to that little period of time that can feel embarrassing as she tries to recall the fact. But she may come to associate 7X2=14 with the hop over to the coffee table where she must stoop to "retrieve" it from underneath the table. 7X5=35 must be retrieved from the bottom of the remote that resides on the table to the left of the tv. 7X6=42 is hanging on the floor lamp on the far opposite side of the room, and so on. Again, she might be forming some muscle memory of a sorts. Hop & stoop-->14; run & lift-->35; run & grasp at face height-->42.

ClareBroommaker's picture

In thinking about this, I realize there have been several incidents in my life when I used muscle memory.

One I want to mention was sort of backwards. It was as if I preloaded a whole bunch of muscles with the knowledge and feel of how to do something before I even tried doing it. It had to do with diving from a springboard. I was about 11 years old had been royalty among belly floppers, but I wanted to dive like some of the graceful teenagers I saw. There were a few girls I would watch dive and just sort of feel/imagine how they did it as they were diving. I felt their steps, their slight jump to press the board down, the way they lifted their arms overhead in a curved arch, the way they propelled upward off the board, bent slightly at the height of their flight and pierced the water with their joined hands as they came down. I felt their grace, their pace, their peace.

I became pleasantly sleepy and confident when I felt these things without even getting on the diving board myself. I think anyone who has been a parent and spoon fed a baby will know that pleasant, sleepy feel-- You are concentrating quietly and when baby opens her mouth to take a bite, what should happen but you, in unison and without thinking, open your own mouth. My preloading the diving muscle knowledge felt a lot like that! Sort of hypnotic, sort of letting the muscles just do what would be done. And guess, what? It worked. I became a good diver. I want to say I built up muscle memory without my muscles first having the actual experience.

And, of course, isn't the classic example that you never forget how to ride a bike? Or how a musician can bring forth the right notes without even thinking about it?

David Trammel's picture

I've run across several ways to coordinate muscle memory into skills but never thought to do that with information too. That's a great way to teach children who have the predicament of being outside of the narrow expectations of the Establishment.