How can our kids get smarter is a question that every parent or educator may ponder? What is it that we can do to foster brilliance among our kids and increase their thinking capacity? If we consider the brain to be our body’s central processing unit (CPU), then perhaps brain-compatible learning may be considered an upgraded teaching solution to increase the learning bandwidth.
Neuron Hub – Despite rapid and mind-boggling technological advancements and even artificial intelligence, nothing can compete with the dynamism of the human brain. The most fascinating part of the human body that differentiates us from all other species– is the brain. The brain is the crown jewel of the human body. It is the source of all the qualities that define our humanity! The brain is our dynamic CPU of how we process—life itself. Isn’t it incredible is that we can even think about our own thinking? Thanks to neuroscience we can even learn about how we learn and this will help us all get smarter in life!
The science of how the brain learns best is a revolution in learning and a transformation that will help us do a better job of imparting learning. Brain-compatible learning is an impressive interdisciplinary approach combining psychology, neuroscience and education pedagogy. This new paradigm influences not only our methodology but also our discipline policies with use of information technology and even the way we think about art and physical education.
Right ‘Software’ for Digital Natives – How do we effectively teach a current population of youngsters who are used to being mesmerizingly engaged with continuous prompts from digital gadgets? Often, children are exposed to digital stimuli from early toddlerhood and find it difficult to focus with ‘old-school’ methods of the digital immigrants which most of us adults are categorized as. In this scenario, it is challenging for an adult—whether a teacher or parent—to compete with multi-media stimulators and pop-ups every second. How do we effectively engage a digital native when he/she is in school or home? How do we use the same hardware (our students’ minds) but run a different, more updated program for learning (software) as a solution?
Built-in Native Capability: Given the dynamic nature of teaching and learning, educators and parents are realizing that having a “hard science” to support practices equips us with the intellectual wherewithal to buttress such practices, especially the ones we knew worked, but were hard to prove. Until we make the new 3Rs of research, reflection and renewal as fundamental to learning as the earlier 3Rs (Reading, wRiting & aRithmetic), our teaching-learning strategies will remain less than optimal. When partners in education move towards making our practices more brain-based, backed with neuroscience validity, everyone benefits, particularly students.
Processing Information Flow: Learning occurs across multiple pathways that receive and coordinate simultaneous inputs. Our brains process sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations all at once. Experiences that engage all of the physical senses – walking through a museum or practicing a new skill or art, going to a novel event—all stimulate the growth of numerous dendrites and enhance learning by association. Technically, rather electro-chemically, information transfer or input occurs through cell transfer (neurons). Neurons that fire together, wire together! When stimulated (from external input), brain cells grow branch-like extensions called dendrites which have extending legs called axons that subdivide and connect to other dendrites of cells. That means, sensorial experiences, emotional connections and motor practice help to embed information in various neural pathways that can be collectively retrieved to create what we refer to as “knowledge.”
Memory Capacity and Retrieval: Einstein said that “knowledge is experience, everything else is information.” Our brain’s dynamic structure alters with every experience; this phenomenon being known as neuroplasticity. How many neural connections are formed depends on both nature and nurture (genes and the enrichment received from the environment). The brain receives millions of bits of information every second but it only retains only a small fraction. Long-term memory stores only that which can be found meaningful to connect to an existing schema (a developed circuitory), is emotionally engaging or finds something so stimulating, novel, or interesting enough to find its way into the episodic memory (like an unforgettable vivid episode).
BCL Continuous Upgrade: Why brain compatible learning (BCL)? “Brain-friendly teachers plan for learning by helping students branch out knowledge, provide an enriching and stimulating environment, and make learning meaningfully relevant,” says Eric Jensen, author of Brain-Compatible Strategies. It may sound quite jargon-like but simply put, BCL occurs when a learning environment, its curriculum, teaching methodology, physical environment, and psychological dynamics are designed and executed in a way that complements and accelerates the functioning of the brain in acquiring knowledge.
About the Writer:
Anjum Babukhan has successfully carved a niche for herself in multi-faceted areas and is respected for her high level of professional integrity, scholarly articulation and commitment to the cause of Education, Enrichment and Empowerment. Professionally, she is a member of YPO Hyderabad Chapter, has previously served as Chairperson for women’s wing of FICCI and was Education Chair of CII.
Recently, Anjum has authored a book, ABCs of Brain Compatible Learning and produced a Youtube video series on the same. Over the last two decades, she has developed an innovative and a creative educational ecosystem across all her institutions that focus on “cherishing the experience called childhood” and create “learning places that are nurturing spaces.” Anjum has set up Edvantage Teacher Leadership Institute and has designed modules that have trained thousands of teachers and parents over the years.
It is a pleasure to share that our group of institutions have pioneered the application of brain-compatible learning since the late nineties while having keep up with the latest brain research, continuously upgrading it. After years of success, it was a milestone to launch ABCs of Brain-Compatible Learning as an actionable guide for both teachers and parents so that we prepare our digital natives to be future-ready in the 21st century. We aspire to make Glendale Academy a role model school in transferring research-backed pedagogy for increasing brilliance in education!