Enjoy this short, but informative piece about how the brain works.  Using just these three concepts can help mold your teaching.  ~EMP

When it comes to how students learn most easily, there are three principles that seem to repeatedly surface.

1. Students progress better in an active, play-based learning environment. This may seem too obvious to state, but it’s true. Boredom is the death of learning. When students are actively engaged in a task or activity, that bit of knowledge being learned – whether practical or theoretical – is more easily made concrete in the brain. Recent pedagogical studies have brought this to light with empirical research; just Google it and you’ll find many pages of relevant results! Students that are primarily kinaesthetic learners especially thrive on this kind of learning environment, though all learning styles benefit from it.

2. Stress is the enemy of education. Stress reduces your cerebral activity and therefore your ability to succeed at a task. When the brain interprets there being a threat or risk of some kind, it shuts down all higher functioning and focuses on responding to the stressful situation at hand through the classic fight or flight paradigm. All kinds of learning require this higher brain functioning, so keeping activities which create anxiety or duress out of the classroom environment is key. If a student is too easily stressed, then it is important to try to build up his or her confidence through short, structured learning exercises where failure is an unlikely outcome.

3. Emotion is a powerful player in developing memory. In fact, memory retention is one of the key roles of our emotions.  When your emotions are not engaged, your memory retention level is much reduced.  So the old Victorian routine of creating an environment of extreme fear in the classroom would have reduced the ability of the students to perform due to stress, but counteracting that, it might have helped them remember some knowledge taught.  However, we don’t recommend employing scare techniques as a strategy!  Positive emotions allow high performance AND good memory retention as well.

David Morgan is Managing Director of Oxford Learning Solutions, creators of the Easyread System, which teaches struggling learners how to read. Easyread specializes in cases of dyslexia, highly visual learning styles, and auditory processing deficits. Find out more at www.easyreadsystem.com and follow the latest literacy news at www.facebook.com/easyreadsystem.

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