Brain-based Learning: Establishing Connections among Students’ Experiences, Interests and Thought Processes in Present Learning Essay
Brain-based Learning: Establishing Connections among Students’ Experiences, Interests and Thought Processes in Present Learning
Research and development in neuroscience led educators to examine the content of the current curriculum and the frameworks within which it is grounded upon - Brain-based Learning: Establishing Connections among Students’ Experiences, Interests and Thought Processes in Present Learning Essay introduction. Many educators believe that significant developments in researches about the brain can shed light on the kind of curriculum and the learning theory to adopt for learners in different age groups. This is to say that the more we learn about the brain, the more we should know as to how learning should proceed and should be conducted in our schools. This is the premise within which brain-based learning is grounded upon.
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At the onset of this paper, it is important to be clear about the over all objective of brain-based learning. “The objective of brain-based learning is to move from memorizing information to meaningful learning” (Caine and Caine, 1990, p. 69). Such being the case, brain-based learning departs from traditional teaching and learning in its attempt to characterize what the learning process is, and how it can be enhanced. In the context of the current curriculum, brain-based learning emphasizes that to achieve optimum results in the learning process learners should be able to make sense of their own experiences. Meaningful learning then, should provide the atmosphere that is conducive for reflection since this activity makes room for learners to make sense of their own experiences. Reflection, however, is a higher-level activity, and as such requires certain pre-conditions. This is where knowledge background functions in the learning process. As a holistic approach, brain-based learning views the levels of processing as concurrent with different mental and physiological processes that facilitate and affect learning. This is because for the proponents of brain-based learning, the learning process may be said to engage the entire physiology. “Anything that affects our physiological functioning affects our capacity to learn” (Cane and Cane, 1990, p. 66). If the aforementioned statement is true, then a student’s school and life experiences may be said to affect his learning process.
This observation helps explain why students with problems at home usually find it difficult to do well in school. If the learning process engages the entire physiology, then the key to achieving optimum results for successful learning is the development of neural connections. M. C. Diamond contends that the development of the aforementioned is crucial in a learner’s ability to make sense of his experiences. Neuron growth, nourishment, and synaptic interactions are integrally related to the perception and interpretation of experiences (cited in Caine and Caine, 1990). Patterning is an integral aspect of the learning process. Such being the case, it is of great help for educators to be able to convey the relevance of the subject matter to the life of the individual. “For teaching to be really effective, a learner must be able to create meaningful and personally relevant patterns” (Caine and Caine, 1990, p. 67). If the learner is able to appreciate the relevance of a subject matter to his personal life, then this will better facilitate learning and ensure a more smooth direction.
From the foregoing discussion, and since brain-based learning is a holistic approach, it is important to note that past experiences also function as an important aspect that educators should consider in facilitating their students’ learning process. This is because emotions are significant in patterning. “Teachers must understand that students’ feelings and attitudes will be involved in learning and will determine future learning” (Caine and Caine, 1990, p. 67). Aside from emotions, the learner’s personal interests are also important aspects that should be considered by educators because they function as a learner’s motivation. And a learner’s personal interests functioning as motivation is deeply connected to patterning as Geoffrey Caine contends. When we’re organizing information in our minds, the way we form patterns is deeply motivated by what we’re interested in (cited in Weiss, 2000, p. 24). In the final analysis, brain-based learning and teaching, by incorporating students’ experiences, interests and thought processes presents a more holistic approach to learning than traditional approaches. This is made possible by incorporating our current knowledge on the brain (i.e. its structure and functions) into our theories about the learning process; how it should proceed and conducted in our schools.
Caine, G. and Caine, R. N. (1990). Understanding a brain-based approach to learning and teaching. Educational Leadership, (October, 1990), 66-70.