The human senses are most generally seen as;

  • Sight (eyes)
  • Hearing (ears)
  • Tactile (mostly hands)
  • Taste (mouth)
  • Smell (nose)
  • Internal Muscle Sense (kinaesthetic)

However, as reading the appropriate literature continually illustrates; one can find many other words used in referring to the senses required in performing different skills. Not only that, but the same senses are used differently for varying purposes.

Some of these are additional names actually identify different senses of which many of the rest of us are completely unaware, whilst others are the ways in which different practitioners refer to the same sense but with a different name because they are using it in different ways to achieve different types of control. For example a quick lookup in Google offers; Proprioception, Pressure, Thermoception, Equilibrioception, Thirst, Hunger, Chemoreceptors, Stretch Receptors, Nociception (pain), Magnetoception, Time, etc…

Also dependant on the expert that is consulted, one will find the ‘Same Sense’ named differently by medics, apprentice trainers, music teachers, dance instructors, Deep-Sea Divers and Astronauts. Most crafts and other types of skill depend heavily on the feedback which the expert actually uses as they operate on the material they are developing. The Cook, the Potter, the Bugler, the Ballet Dancer, the Cricketer, the Boxer and the Footballer or Rugby player will all seemingly depend upon many of the major senses in order to provide feedback as each craftsman goes about their business. Not only physical skills but every type of human activity and pursuit will be found to depend upon the operator receiving adequate feedback to check how well they are achieving their purposes.

Oliver Sacks has discovered, over and over again that people, many of them at the top of their professions often vary considerably in terms of how and why they use various senses to carefully control both the timing and the quality of the feedback that they need to achieve their purposes. Whilst any skilled activity contains many apparently repetitive activities, reasonably close scrutiny of exactly what is going on, always reveals that not only is the repetition not perfectly repetitive, but subtle variations are required to cope with what are invisible to the lay observer, or appear to be seemingly irrelevant factors. These will require continuous attention if that particular form of skilled activity is to be maintained at its highest level.

Hence the S-O-Ler, the S-O-L Coach at each of their three levels, and the S-O-L Manager, all need to learn how to use their own senses to systematically discover how the learner can best use theirs. Only so can they enable the learner to create the total hierarchy of skills needed in any particular trade by people with various mixed senses. The fact that the skill required that the perceiver is continually searching and carefully selective of their sensory feedback in line with the Personal Meaning and the creative Actions which it triggers, become the skilled activities which in turn are continually changing events in the environment.

Over and over again, Oliver Sacks discovers that different people, often at the top of their professions are dependent on quite different sensory feedback in order to achieve high quality performance. In addition all skills or controlled performance depend upon a hierarchy of different types of feedback to control both the second by second, minute by minute, etc. pattern as we have suggested earlier in tennis but it is equally true in all sports and all skilled activity.

As the S-O-Ler moves from short term learning to longer and longer processes we have discovered that they need to become aware of exactly of how and when they obtain the feedback which allows them to perform in increasingly better ways. This has been true for us in all our studies from ‘reading for different purposes’ to Air Intercept Control, students in Art Schools to Trainee Sailors, Naval Officers and also to Coal Miners together with Workers on Television Manufacturer’s production lines.