Piute County School District,

Imagine you were asked to participate in a study seeking to see if people can walk in a straight line without a reference point. For the study you are taken to a large, open, and flat area and asked to wear a blindfold. You are then asked to walk in a straight line. What do you think the result would be? Could you walk in a straight line with a blindfold? To make it easier imagine you are taken without a blindfold to the middle of one of Europe’s most dense forests on a cloudy day. You are then asked to walk in any direction, but in a straight line. Could you do it without the blindfold?

A study just like this was conducted in 2009 in Germany. Participants attempted to walk a straight line with and without a blindfold. For the walk without a blindfold they were taken deep into the Bienwald forest in Germany. They were given a GPS tracker and told to walk in a straight line. 

The result for both experiments was that we cannot walk in a straight line without a reference point. With the blindfold experiment every participant made circles in their path. Some of their circles were as small as 65 feet in diameter despite them concentrating on walking a straight line. The participants that were sent walking in the woods also looped around in several circles. Only two managed to walk a nearly straight line. The reason for this variation in the data was the visibility of the sun. These two participants did the walk in the woods on a non-cloudy day and were able to use the sun as a reference point. Even their straight paths deviated when the sun would temporarily be hidden by clouds. 

The study illustrates that we need a reference point to guide our path. In education we try to help students see their potential and use it as a reference point to push towards. We provide as many signposts and benchmarks as we can along the way. It may seem at times that we are still just making circles, but by keeping their potential as a reference we can keep them moving steadily towards that goal. Even if their reference point, the sun, was as an unreachable objective it was still keeping them on their intended path. Even if a student’s potential seems to them (or even us) to be unreachable, keeping it as the reference will maintain the view of the path. 

Thank you for helping our students see their reference point and thank you pushing them forward. 

Have a great Week 14,


The full study….

Week 14 Walking in Circles

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