This is just the beginning of an exciting story whose title is...
“Oh Pompeus! I’m astonished at seeing how much care you’ve put in preparing the scenario of …” It was on that very moment that I pursed my lips feeling like a mountain climber who realizes he has mistook an abyss for an shelter just a few seconds before jumping into it. In the parlour there was the whole staff of the Magic Wood School including the headmaster (the Farmer) sitting on the sofa and two armchairs. Obviously the male colleagues had not understood my confusion but Ms Big Valley (have I told you about her before? NOOO?! Well she has a faint resemblance with prince Charles’s *beautiful* second wife…) was strangely sneering and presumably (or it was my imagination?) she had understood in what awful misinterpretation I had fallen… HOW EMBARASSING!!! But, as usual, my self-control and quickness saved my life.“
“How wonderful to have a surprise party!!! You didn’t tell me how carefully you had planned this event… You devil!!!”
Pompeus, blushing: “Hi Ms Hazel! Actually it not a surprise party but a *surprise* teachers’ workshop. I wanted to show everybody how memorable an occasion can be if we simply associate a particular smell or scent to it.
“Oh.. How interesting! Tell me more. I’m dying
to learn more about this…” I could kill him if there weren’t
so many witnesses around…
does smell affect our memories, feelings, and even blood pressure? Smell is the most acute of the five senses. As volatile essential oils
are inhaled, they activate receptors in the olfactory bulb at the top
of the nasal cavity. These, in turn, induce nerve impulses, which travel
rapidly to the brain, where they trigger responses in areas involving
heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, emotions, stress levels,
and sexual arousal. Research is directed toward fully explaining how
different smells cause different psychological and immunological reactions.
Ms Valley petulantly asked (just for once I sympathized with her nastiness…): “Yes, but what does all this have to do with learning? Because it’s for getting some deeper knowledge of the learning process that we have all come here tonight?” And she gave an askew glance at me, grinning maliciously. I grinned back.
Pompeus: “I’m going to tell you now: odor, memory and emotion are anatomically connected. The primary olfactory cortex, which collects information about smells from the nose, is directly linked to the amygdala, which controls emotion, and the hippocampus, which controls memories.
Memories evoked by smell seem more intense than other memories because they are more closely connected to emotion than memories induced by visual, audio or other types of cues…”
Ms Valley: “What should we ask our students to do? Smell the literature book? A smell is a smell: it doesn’t carry any information along…”
Pompeus: “It’s true but, while odors don’t represent
information by themselves, on the other hand the they evoke emotionally-charged
Have you ever experienced perceiving a smell and suddenly remembering an event that you'd forgotten for years? Or, just think how that au de cologne can make you think of a person you haven’t seen for ages to the point that you almost can see him (or her) before you. I confess I can’t but think of a certain woman when I smell Angel by Thierry Mugler... All these I’ve mentioned are examples of the connection between olfaction and memory”.
“How interesting and fascinating!” Said I blushing: You all know, I hope, that Angel is my favourite perfume… It was my imagination or Pompeus was winking at me? I decided not to let anything spill out about the perfume trickery and so I wore my most professional look: “Please Pompeus, tell us more about smell, it’s simply… fascinating!!”
Pompeus: “It is important for us teachers to
understand the dynamics of olfaction. The primary
olfactory cortex forms a direct link with the amygdala and the hippocampus, as I’ve said
before. The olfactory nerve is very near the amygdala: I remind you that
amigdala is involved in experiencing emotion and also in emotional memory.
Besides, the olfactory nerve is directly connected to the hippocampus and
hippocampus is in charge of s memory, especially working memory and short-term
memory. As you know hippocampus and amygdala are a
part of the limbic system,
so we can say that olfaction is the sense that is physically closest to
the limbic system which is responsible for emotions and memory. Indeed
this may be the reason why odor-evoked memories are generally emotionally
|Ms Valley interrupted brusquely: “Very good! Now tell us what should we do in the classroom? Should we spray perfumes on our students as they enter the classrooms. In some cases it would be a good idea, especially if we sprayed it on their rubber trainers… “ She nastily giggled at her vulgar joke.|
Pompeus: “I talked to you about the role of smell in memories because it can be useful for enhancing learning. Actually I noticed that some colleague already uses this strategy. For instance, Ms Hazel, always keeps scented candles in the classroom. I’ve always appreciated this habit of hers because I’m sure that her pupils associate the scent to a nice experience and they will certainly remember what they have learned much more easily, because, as we all know, we tend to remember positive experiences and forget unpleasant ones”.
Pompeus: “What we could do to make the most of the powerful effects of smell on memories is to link a particular scents to a distinct topic. For instance we could use jasmine when talking about grammar, rose when discussing literature, or daisy when doing Maths”.
Ms Valley: “Daisies do not smell!”
Pompeus: “Now let’s have some tea and biscuits before starting
the group works. Each group shall devise a different way of using smells
in the classroom. Hazel (he called me by my first name!) You will help
me to organize the groups because I can see you’re already deep into
Sequel of the story: Aromatherapy activities!
For ever yours