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Nurturing our powerhouse – the brain – to optimize learning
conference contributionposted on 2019-10-28, 00:00 authored by Ragnar PurjeRagnar Purje, Kenneth PurnellKenneth Purnell
Using effectively and efficiently the plastic properties of our brain is critical for learning, memory formation and consolidation. To do this we need to nurture the brain using optimal learning environments. Teachers and educators generally may create such environments where fear-based learning is largely removed and replaced with a thriving learning environment where students are keen to learn perceiving new things as “this is interesting”, “I’d like to have a go at this” – and approach-based self-talk style. This involves utilizing ideas from psychology and neuroscience as well as education (sometimes referred to as PEN principles), that include key elements such as stretch goals (and the concept of “not yet” where failure is experienced, and no put downs nor fear of failure as it provides great learning opportunities – just ask John Dyson how many vacuum cleaners he made before getting the concept to where he wanted it . . .), and nurture of our brains through key processes such as: sleep hygiene (quantity and quality of sleep and ways to achieve those), good nutrition (we must feed our brain as well as our bodies), movement (yes, we avoided the ‘e’ word – ‘exercise), management of our thoughts (some claim that ‘We are our thoughts’), and attend to our spiritual needs (values and beliefs as well as other – who we are and how we perceive ourselves in this world). These together greatly influence our neural development and ability to have neural proliferations to create expertise, and naturally are major determinants of much of our behaviors. In learning, we need, with purposeful conscious intent, to promote optimal, thriving learning environments and remove authoritarian fear-based learning environments that often characterize the lived experiences of too many of our students. In this session we focus on using our powerhouse – the brain – to maximize learning through examining the importance of examining the basic question of ‘What am I responsible for and what power do I have?’ giving examples of the use of Responsibility Theory in the classroom with its key precepts and language, and using movement (as an additional consideration) to further advance neural proliferations. We examine how these contribute to the goals of self-motivated and self-directed learning, higher achievement and better wellness.