Brain compatible teaching can be defined as using teaching methods, planning lessons and classroom experiences, and implementing whole school programs that are based on the latest scientific research about how the brain learns most effectively and efficiently.
There are 12 principles that many educators and schools reference when striving to create brain compatible lessons and classrooms for students. In this post we will provide a brief overview of 6 brain based learning principles and consider their implications for teachers. The remaining 6 principles were the focus of our last blog post in June.
Brains Are Designed For ‘GIST’ Learning
Principle: Teachers used to believe that students could hold seven chunks of new information in their working memory, but recent research has revealed that two to four chunks is more realistic.
Implications for teachers: Teachers should teach new content in small chunks, allow students to process the new learning, and then give students a ‘brain break’. As Eric Jensen says in regard to teaching students new information or content -‘Too much, too fast-won’t last’.
The Role Of The Arts
Principle: Recent research suggests that the arts are far better for brain development and learning, than earlier believed, and that certain arts boost attention, working memory, and visual spatial skills. Other arts such as dance, theatre and drama boost social skills, empathy, timing, patience, verbal memory and other transferable life skills.
Implications for teachers: Encourage students to participate in the arts. Evidence suggests that students get the most value from 30 to 60 minutes a day three to five days a week.
Humans Are Emotional By Nature
Principle: A student’s emotional state has a direct effect on their ability to learn within the classroom environment.
Implications for teachers: It is important for teachers to read and manage the emotional states of their students. If a student is feeling positive, their ability to learn is enhanced.
Students With Learning Differences
Principle: There have been stunning strides in rehabilitation of brain-based disorders, including Asperger’s, learning delays, dyslexia, and autism.
Implications for teachers: It is important for teachers to ensure they are up to date with the latest research findings, and use the recommended strategies designed to support and extend students with learning differences.
Memory is Malleable
Principle: Memories are not fixed but, instead, are quite malleable. Every time a memory is retrieved, it goes into a volatile, flex state in which it is temporarily easily re-organized.
Implications for teachers: It is most beneficial for students if teachers review newly taught content half way between the original learning and an assessment. For example, if new content is that is taught on a Monday is going to be tested on Friday; it is recommended for the review to be scheduled on Wednesday.
Stress is ‘bad’ for the brain
Principle: Whilst a ‘healthy’ level of stress is good, chronic or acute stress has a negative impact on learning. Chronic stress is a real issue for many students, with recent studies suggesting that 30-50% of all students felt moderately or greatly stressed every day.
Implications for teachers: Teach students coping skills, increase their perception of choice and encourage physical activity. Activities such as these can increase the student’s sense of control over their day at school, which can lower their level of stress.
*Reference: An Introduction To Brain Compatible Learning by Eric Jensen
Optimise Learning Co-Founder