Nine brain facts for school teachers

What do you know about brain? How does it function when we learn? What should a teacher know about brain as they plan their routine teaching and assessment? We looked at Louis Cozolino's research on brain and learning to gather these nine facts about the brain for you. What are the nine brain facts teachers can use?


Fact One

The brain is a social organ.

A brain without connection to other brains and without sufficient challenge will shrink and eventually die. This is why teachers must create positive social experiences in the classroom.


Fact Two

We have two brains.

The left hemisphere of our brain takes the lead on language processing, linear thinking, and pro-social functioning while the right hemisphere specializes in visual-spatial processing, strong emotions, and private experience. Good teachers intuitively seek to balance the expression of emotion and cognition as they teach.


Fact Three

Early experiences shape the brain.

Much of our most important emotional and interpersonal learning occurs during our first few years of life, when our more primitive neural networks are in control. Every time children behave in a way we don’t understand, a teacher has the opportunity to engage in an exploration of their inner world.


Fact Four

Brain runs two parallel processes.

Conscious awareness and unconscious processing simultaneously occur at different speeds in our brain. The brain is able to process incoming information based on our experiences, and present it to us in half a second. We must teach students to question their assumptions and the possible influences of past experiences and unconscious biases on their feelings and beliefs.


Fact Five

Brain and body are interwoven.

Physical activity exerts a stimulating influence on the entire brain that keeps it functioning at an optimal level. An awareness of these biological realities can lead to changes in school start times, lunch programs, and recess schedules.


Fact Six

Brain has a short attention span.

The brain has a short attention span and needs repetition and multiple-channel processing for deeper learning to occur. Teachers would do well to make sure they repeat important points in their lessons to deepen learning.


Fact Seven

Fear and stress impair learning.

Evolution has shaped our brains to err on the side of caution and to trigger fear whenever it might be remotely useful. Fear makes us less intelligent. Teachers can use their warmth, empathic caring, and positive regard to create a state of mind that decreases fear and increases neuroplasticity.


Fact Eight

Our brain is blind about ourselves.

Our brains have evolved to pay attention to the behaviors and emotions of other people. We are slow to become aware of our own motives and faults. We need to teach students to think about their own thinking.


Fact Nine

Brain likes the big picture during learning.

Learning is enhanced by emphasizing the big picture—and then allowing students to discover the details for themselves. We are born to explore, and teachers who make use of that will probably find more success in the classroom.

 
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