Monday, August 29, 2011

Brain Cravings

I have been most fortunate to participate in three workshops by Louis Mangione.  It is an absolute pleasure to experience an educator who makes both teaching and learning appear effortless.  Louis Mangione's workshop on "Brainstreaming" is an absolute masterpiece as Mr. Mangione weaves together the art of teaching into a lessons about how the brain learns, efficient teaching in the block, history, math, italian and art.

One of the most important points Mr. Mangione shared is the three things that the learning brain craves:
Ritual, Novelty and Challenge.

Children, especially teen-agers crave Ritual.  They are lulled in to a state of security in knowing what is going to happen.  They are most comfortable when there is a definite routine, pattern, schedule.  It is in the safety of the expected that students find comfort and are able to let down their guard and be open to the process of learning.

Routine, however, can also be the death of the learning process if that ritual becomes monotonous.  Therefore, the brain also craves Novelty.  Students are always looking for something new, different, unique. Something to grab their attention and keep it.

Although most students will not admit this for fear of the work it may create, they do crave Challenge.  
They want to be challenged to complete new tasks, scale new heights and push themselves to new accomplishments. 

It is the task of the teacher to find balance among these three concepts.  Create a culture of learning within their classroom that balances the structure and routine that provides a safe environments for students to accept and take on the challenges without fear.  Where there is enough novelty that the process of learning does not become stagnant and the willingness to take on a challenge is not lost to boredom.

"It is the supreme art of the teacher...
to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."        
- Albert Einstein -

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