Over the past decade, there has been plenty of research on how the brain functions in terms of learning. I’ve been to conferences and workshops that have shown how brains differ in gender, how brains are wired differently, how our brains remember things, and so on. Recently I read a book called Brain Rules by John Medina who sums up all of those findings neatly into 12 simple rules.
- Exercise boosts brain power
- The human brain evolved to survive (we learned to build relationships, solve problems, learn from our mistakes)
- Human brains are wired differently (we learn differently, at different rates, and have different capacities)
- We don’t pay attention to boring things and we cannot multi-task
- Repeat to Remember for short term memory. Repeating helps with declarative memory – things we can declare like 2+2=4. (Our short term memory only holds about 7 things for 30 seconds, if we want to remember it, we need to repeat it)
- Remember to Repeat for long term memory
- Sleep well, think well (the brain needs rest – Siesta anyone?)
- Stressed brains don’t learn the same way (there’s good stress and bad stress – long term stress is REALLY BAD)
- Stimulate more of the senses (those in multisensory environments always do better than those in unisensory ones)
- Vison trumps all other senses (use visuals when you teach)
- Male and female brains are different (a little too generalized in this book in my opinion)
- We are powerful and natural explorers.
The book’s an easy read with Dr. Medina’s suggestions for how these rules might be applied in schools and a pretty quick read. Even quicker you can go to his interactive website and explore the rules for yourself.
I think most of us are familiar with this, but the question that remains is: how does this inform our teaching? Have we made changes based on what we know? Good food for thought.