Jules weighs in on gray matter after attending a conference in Boston last fall titled “Engaging 21st Century Minds.” Here are a few thoughts.
We are hearing about the brain more than ever today. Turns out that it’s an even more fascinating organ than we first imagined, before the age of PET scans, which essentially make the brain transparent.
So while it’s fun knowing about “the language pathway” and the link between Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, we always need to ask ourselves two key questions as good consumers of research: So what? And what does it mean?
Educators at Edutopia have been giving the matter of gray matter serious thought. In their report “Six Tips for Brain-Based Learning” they zero in on these practices:
1. Create a safe climate for learning.
2. Encourage a growth mind-set.
3. Emphasize feedback.
4. Get bodies and brains in gear.
5. Start early.
6. Embrace the power of novelty.
In it, the authors explain, for example, how powerful the amygdala is (the part of the brain that processes emotions) and how it can block learning if it feels threatened. You’ll learn more about Carol Dweck’s research showing that children who have a growth mind-set are willing to plunge in, make mistakes, and see feedback as something positive. These students understand that intelligence isn’t a fixed commodity, but can be cultivated through hard work. You’ll see how student evaluations can become a rich learning opportunities, how exercise enhances brainpower, why preschool is so important for developing a child’s 100 billion neurons during the first 2,000 days of life (!), and how to provide the brain with the novelty it craves.
Which of these six practices are you already using in your classroom? Or in your own life to keep your brain sharp? Let us know!
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