The Case for Brain Based Learning in the Classroom How the Brain Sets the Stage for Student Learning and Motivation EED 681 Classroom Management Professor Susan Belgrad
“Think of the children in your life and imagine what they might become one day--doctor, teacher, astronaut, father, engineer, caregiver, farmer, mother. The world is open to each child, and teachers, parents and other caring adults hold the keys to opening the doors of learning and growth for children.”
“Let it be yours to give them bread;Mine, to give them themselves.” W. F. Froebel
Parents, Caregivers and Teachers Influence Children’s Learning and Attitudes about Learning Experience and stimulation shape our brains by creating patterns of thinking, says Dr Schor. "The unique way in which each of us solves problems, interprets information, and responds to the environment follows the patterns established early with guidance from our primary caregivers," he says.
Influencing the child’s quest for knowledge And those patterns of thinking determine our social and emotional makeup as well as our intellectual growth and goals to achieve, according to psychologist Carol Dweck. This discovery is possibly one of the most significant and exciting aspects of recent cognitive research. "Just as we use certain patterns of thinking to decipher words on a page, we use certain patterns of thinking to interpret social circumstances and to regulate our emotions as well," he says.
Adults Make the Difference in Every Child’s Life Outlook and Life Chances!! The caregivers and educators who affect children from the outset of life do so in helping them create their life mindset."What's new is the notion that the way in which we interpret social situations and relate to others is established in patterns of thought and in the structure of our brains as well." Dr. Schor
Motivation Depends on Neurobiology! Neurobiologists have discovered a biological basis for the widely held notion that a loving, secure, stimulating environment fosters healthy development, while a chronically neglectful, physically damaging, or emotionally abusive environment can produce significant, lasting harm. The brain becomes conditioned, via neuronal connections established during the early years of supportive or negative experiences, to respond according to certain patterns.
Cortisol in the Child’s Brain Makes a Big Difference in Learning and Behavior Chemical levels of cortisol in the brain and blood help determine how a child will respond to challenges in the environment. In this way, chronic stress, including the chronic stress encountered by a child in a stressful, neglectful or abusive environment, can impair brain development. Research has found that children with chronically high levels of cortisol experience more cognitive, motor, and social delays than other children.
Nature and Nurture Make a Difference in a Child’s Life "Early, frequent, and intense stress tunes the brain to set stress regulation mechanisms at high levels," says Dr Lally. "This often results in a child operating in a persisting fear state." Such a child may act more aggressively to environmental stress, and may be less able to modulate that response.
What students in your classroom need from you . . . Because "learning takes place within the context of relationships. The primary relationships—parents, caregvers and teachers have to be good ones." “First I love them, then I teach them!”
What students in your classroom need from you . . . A good relationship must have certain key ingredients, Dr Lally believes. "The most important thing caregivers can do for children is to provide nurturance, support, security, and predictability," he says. "Those four things decrease the secretion of cortisol, and they can even compensate for abuse and neglect. Children need relationships with one or two or three people they can depend on over time."
Opening the Windows of Learning - an Enriched Learning Environment A brain based learning environment is the second cornerstone of a child's continuing brain development in childhood. Teachers can do a number of things to open the windows of learning for children..
Some key ideas of brain based teaching practice are Children need simple, hands-on (minds-on) experiences for their brains to develop. This means that all subject area lessons need to be led in such a way that a variety of learning modalities are stimulated and engaged!
Repetition Promotes Learning Children learn through repetition. Repetition of an experience tends to set neural connections. Why? Because a child's brain is "wired" to encourage repetition of sounds, patterns or experiences that provide security, and thus develop strong neural pathways in the brain that become the highways of learning. Such repetition is good for your students and a practical, easy approach to helping every child's growth and learning.
Why Is This So Important? The connections between brain cells in a child's brain are developing constantly. Current thinking suggests that about 30 percent to 60 percent of our brain's wiring depends on heredity, while about 40 percent to 70 percent develops based on interactions with the environment, including parents and teachers. Care and guidance provided to the child at home and school are much more likely to influence certain aspects of the brain.
Kids Under Construction! Brain Compatible Classrooms Teaching the way the brain learns best: “Imagine an environment where thinking is abstract, complex, respected and stimulated; where learning is active and never passive and where learners are immersed in the joy of discovery.” Janet Aaker Smith