Nearly 90% of teachers consider knowledge of how the brain functions to be relevant to the planning of education programs.
(PRWEB) November 06, 2013
Science is constantly discovering new things about learning and memory that have not yet been incorporated into school programs, and while teachers scramble to prepare students for government-mandated tests, their students are often lacking in the ability to learn and remember.
Although many people assume that ‘more facts’ in the brain equals ‘more intelligence,’ the reality is that cramming information isn’t quite the same thing as learning it.
In fact, a person’s level of intelligence depends largely on how selectively they can remember information, or, as neuroscientists put it, how the ‘spotlight’ of attention is controlled.
In recent years there has been an increased interest in applying knowledge of the human brain to education, and teachers have been some of the most enthusiastic participants of the so-called ‘neuro-revolution.’
A survey conducted for the Mind, Brain and Education journal showed that nearly 90% of teachers consider knowledge of how the brain functions to be relevant to the planning of education programs.
Cognitive psychologists, neuroscientists and education specialists agree that, if applied properly, neuroscience could be hugely beneficial to schools.
One recent initiative aimed at providing a glimpse at how the brain learns is the interactive brain tour developed by Open Colleges, one of Australia’s leading private distance learning providers.
The interactive learning tool, Your Brain Map, has been designed to give teachers and learners a view of the different regions in the brain; help them understand the mental processes that are involved in learning; and enable them to employ teaching practices that enhance student learning.
"Understanding how the brain functions and why certain techniques are more effective than others ensures that we can all live up to our promise as learners," says Open Colleges’ General Manager of Marketing & Communications, Kevin Lynch.
"The interactive graphic touches on everything from the role of the physical environment in the learning process to how humor can affect the brain’s ability to remember, and hopefully it will encourage learners and teachers alike to delve deeper into the field of educational neuroscience," he says.
One example of how an understanding of neuroscience can enhance learning is the brain’s reaction to experiences that are perceived as enjoyable.
Scientists have found that the brain releases dopamine, a natural chemical, when an experience is perceived as enjoyable. So, positive emotions and experiences cause dopamine to travel through the brain, activating more neurons and enhancing not only feelings of pleasure, but also alertness and memory.
Additionally, dopamine activates what scientists refer to as the ‘reward center,’ which is known to increase a person’s motivation and interest in activities.
Knowing this gives teachers more incentive to make lessons enjoyable and interactive for students, because the more interested students are in an activity, the more dopamine will be released, and the better they will remember the lesson.
In short, understanding how the brain learns, even on the most basic level, helps teachers to build students’ brain potential and change educational outcomes for those who have been acting out or performing poorly due to stress, frustration or just plain old boredom.