Brain Based Learning

Impressions after reading  Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 3.04.50 PM

Much more is actually known about the brain than has made it out into the public consciousness and many areas I thought had some validity (iceberg, left/right brain, hard wiring) turn out to be very outdated. Excitingly, the newest theory touched on is that the brain and the body are one entity and electrical impulses and chemical secretions are actually tightly coupled.
The explanations of how the brain actually works and how we learn are constantly put into the context of how to use this knowledge to help students learn faster, deeper and with greater plasticity. The more I read, the more I was struck by how much the sensory engagement and excitement our kids get every day from TV and computer games had its base in the brain science described. Better, I realised by understanding more about the positive effects on the brain; physical exercise,  encouraging positive relationships, creating safe learning environments and opportunity to contribute, we can create a better learning experience for all our children in school.
The ‘What This Means To You’ sections at the end of each chapter give really direct advice and useful ideas of how to create better learning opportunities within our classrooms.

Key Points

  • The brain hates boredom
  • The brain loves to be challenged and learn
  • It prioritises the unusual
  • And rewards activities it likes
  • It craves immediate and specific feedback
  • And defaults to trial and error
  • There is multi sensory input from ALL senses while learning
  • Rewarding outputs is counterproductive
  • Rewarding effort is key
  • Trial and error is instinctive
  • The best goals are student generated

Is it based on proper research?

Yes. Jensen taps into real scientific research about how the brain really works and intertwines it with the best educationalists can come up with and demands that “now is the time to expand the research to make it school tested and classroom proven.”

Some Quotes from Brain Based Learning

‘The cell needs enough activation to fire, or it will remain dormant and no memory will be activated.’

‘Optimism comes from mastering conflict resolution and experiencing a sense of belonging and acceptance.’

‘Learners switch from right-brain to left-brain dominance 16 times throughout the day.’

‘Learning is best when focused, diffused, and then focused again.’

Internal time is needed to create meaning

Groupings by age or grade cause feelings of inadequacy because learners are not being measured by effort

Many problems may not be problems at all; they may simply be an expression of the natural line along which one’s developmental process unfolds

Exercise enhances the production of new cells in the brain

Exercise triggers the release of neurotrophins which enhance growth, impact mood, cement memory, and enhance connections between neurons

‘Exercise is one of the best things you can do for the brain.’

‘Learners in a state of fear or threat experience not only reduced cognitive abilities but also weakened immune systems.’

‘…survival always overrides pattern detection and complex problem solving.’

‘90% of the brains sensory input is from visual sources…we remember colours first and content second.’

‘..we remember best the concrete visuals that we can touch and manipulate..’

‘These gains are astonishing – learners with the most sunlight progressed 20% faster on maths tests and 26% faster on reading tests.’

‘…when information is imbued with music, there’s a greater likelihood that the brain will encode it in long term memory.’

‘Learners learn best when their minds, hearts, and bodies (the thinking triumvirate) are engaged.’

‘The more aspects of self that we can tap into for learners, the more effective we’ll be as educators.’

‘When a result makes us feel good, naturally we’re going to select it over a result that makes us feel bad.’

‘The bottom line is that we (the brain) are a complex system of systems, and the communication network does not consist solely of the neural networks.  Arguably the brain operates more like a gland than a computer – it triggers hormones, is bathed in them and is partially run by them.’

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