“All humans behavior and learning, including feeling, thinking, creating, remembering and deciding, originate in the brain. ” By Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Neuroscience is the sciences which deals with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain. Understanding the brain is very important to understanding how one learns. I believe all educators should have to go through a neuroscience class to be made aware of how the brain works; below is a brief snapshot of three reasons why.
Neuroplasticity describes how the brain is malleable and changes over time and our lives. This change matters what we think about learners because intelligence can be developed as learning can literally change the brain. Students need to practice skills multiple ways as that helps build stronger connections in the brain. Intelligence is not fixed at birth but it is always changing and building neuropathways between neurons. It is important for children to know the brain is always changing and is malleable. Teacher’s views of intelligence affects students outcomes. If they view intelligence as fixed they will have negative consequences for students learning and the classroom has a different atmosphere because there is more judgement. In a growth mindset classroom there is more focus on nurturing and learning as a journey. Jeff Raikes, Former CEO of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says that “Growth Mindset is a key to closing the achievement gap.” Read some of my previous posts on growth mindset here!
Metacognition is important because it links everything together as a result of thinking about the learning. The self-regulation approach aims to help learners think about their own learning more explicitly so as to take increased responsibility for achievement, resulting in the joy of the learning process. Integrated learning helps learners understand concepts on a deeper level because it is connected which promotes long-term memories verse factual single skills.
Neuromyth are misinterpretations of brain science data ie myths such as “We only use of 10% of our brains!”- This is NOT true! Another neuromyth is that we can multitask. You can not multitask as the brain can only focus on one piece of information at a time. When you are trying to learn something you need to focus. Trying to multitask impacts learning because it can lead to decreased memory, executive functions and increased brain cell death. It also comes with a cognitive cost of not becoming part of the long-term memory. This happens due to buildup of cortisol (stress hormone). Doing too much task shifting can have a negative impact on learning, attention and memory. It also changes the way one learns and lowers the ability to stay focused on one task. When multitasking it takes twice as long to complete a task and more mistakes are likely going to be made.
Want to learn more about neuroscience and learning, check out some of these resources:
Emotions, Learning, and the Brain: Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang
Lyman, L. (2016) Brain Science for Principals: What School Leaders Need to Know. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.