This Course at MIT

Course Overview

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 Outcomes

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.
 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

None

Requirements Satisfied

May not be used for GIR credit, but may be repeated for credit with permission of instructor.

Offered

Special Seminars in Interdisciplinary Studies are offered on a variable schedule.

The Classroom

  • Gymnastics gymnasium featuring a trampoline and parallel bars in the foreground, a large blue practice mat in the middle of the space, and various incline mats and equipment in the background.

    Seminar and Exploration

     

    Sessions were held in a gymnasium equipped with a wide range of mats, crash pads, a ropes course, a trampoline and safey devices. 

    

     

     

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by attendance. 33% Attendance
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by engagement. 33% Engagement
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by the video journal assignment. 34% Video Journal
 

Read more about the instructor's thoughts on assessment.

Student Information

On average, 12 students take this course each time it is offered.

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:

In Class

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

1 hour per week

Students worked on their weekly video journal assignments and practiced warm-up and cool-down exercises.

 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
2 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
3 No classes throughout MIT. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
4 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
5 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
6 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
7 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
8 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
9 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
10 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
11 Class meeting scheduled. No session scheduled. Class meeting scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
12 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. Visit MIT labs. Open gym session. No session scheduled; video journal entry due.
13 Student presentations of video journals. No session scheduled. Student presentations of video journals. Open gym session. No session scheduled.
14 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Open gym session. No session scheduled.
15 No session scheduled. No session scheduled. No session scheduled. Open gym session. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when class meetings are held. Class meeting
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when video journal entries were are due. Video journal entry due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when student presentations of video journals are held. Student presentations of video journal
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when open gym sessions are held. Open gym session
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when field trips to MIT labs are held. Visit MIT labs
 

Instructor Insights

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.

—Noah Riskin

In the following pages, Noah Riskin describes various aspects of how he taught ES.S71 Increasing Your Physical Intelligence, Enhancing Your Social Smarts.